LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The holidays are a colorful time.

There’s Black Friday. Your Green Card or Platinum Card. And, if you’re smart, trying to keep out of the Red.

CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey sat down with financial guru and national radio host Dave Ramsey for advice on making sure holiday shopping doesn’t get out of hand.

And out of hand is what happens to many people. It’s estimated that the average person will spend three months trying to pay off their holiday bills.

Ramsey has spent 20 years dispensing financial advice over the airwaves. One piece of advice is constant. He tells his audience it is never too late to start saving, even now.

Says Ramsey, “Christmas has gotten so out-of-control. For some people it’s no longer a holiday. It’s the height of dysfunction. We’re going to buy a bunch of stuff with money we don’t have … for people we don’t see. It’s crazy.”

Ramsey also advises to save big where possible. You have to set limits to maximize your holiday spending.

“When it comes to Christmas,” he quips, “Santa Claus is a friend of mine. He said to make a list and check it twice. But Dave Ramsey says put a dollar amount next to each one and total them up.”

He also reminds consumers to go in with a plan and go home when you are through spending. “Staying in the mall is like staying in the bar after you are already drunk. Get out!”

Being more money conscious now, Ramsey allows, also sets you up better for a new beginning in the new year.

“Take stock of your life. Lay out some goals. Write down where you want to be at the end of the year. And have a family discussion about it, or it will never happen.”

Another thing Ramsey suggests: Try to become immune to the lure of advertising and marketing.  Easier said than done, no? “At the end of the day,” Ramsey says, “you have to put up barriers and boundaries to protect yourself from the onslaught of marketing.”

Tis the season … to be debt free, Ramsey says. “That’s the best way to interact in the holidays.”