Dreaming of a debt-free New Year? Then don't be swayed by a store's in-house credit. Department store credit cards are notorious for staggering interest rates (often 20 percent or more) and promises of zero interest for what turns out to be too short a time. Instead, consider layaway. It can be a great way to split the pain of big-ticket price tags. And, there's something to be said for not carrying debt into the New Year. Just keep in mind that layaway may tempt you to overbuy. Plus, you can't always put sale items on layaway. Your best strategy will be to create a realistic budget that details how much you want to spend on each person, as well as a few unexpected interlopers -- like the office Secret Santa.