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Watch your spending over the holidays

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Are you, like most Americans, afraid of the holiday debt? Do you wake in a panic because you forgot in the holiday rush to buy a gift for your mother? Here are a few tips from the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation to help avoid a holiday spending hangover and help relieve the stress of the holiday season.

  • Create a list – List the people to intend to buy gifts for and reach out to those individuals for gift ideas. Chances are you are you are likely to spend more than what they want. Since some people are hesitant to give gift suggestions, perhaps you could prepare a list of items you would like to receive for the holidays so that you can, “go first” when you ask for gift ideas.
  • Give of your time – The holidays are usually when most people are feeling the most generous. However, if financial giving is going to put a strain on your budget, consider giving your time. For instance, instead of contributing to every bell ringer you see, perhaps you can be the one to ring the bell. The holidays are an especially lonely time for a lot of our elders, so why not donate a few hours to visit with those in your community; you never know what you might learn. Tip: You will want to call ahead for visiting hours and to be connected with someone who would appreciate your company.
  • Compare, compare, compare! – Sometimes there is a significant price difference between stores and buying online versus “in person” shopping. Since most prices are listed on the website of most stores, you might want to begin your holiday shopping at the computer. If you do not have access to the Internet from your home then consider visiting your local library, which usually provides free access to the internet for members of their community. Also, while you are at the library, check out their collection of DVD’s to cut down on your movie rental expenses.
  • Pay cash – While it is tempting to buy Christmas with your credit card, it could potentially impact your budget the rest of the year. Remember, every time you swipe a credit card you are agreeing to pay interest on the item you purchased. If you do not like to carry cash, consider asking your bank about a debit card which is accepted anywhere credit cards are accepted.
  • Make and implement a plan – This year the plan may be to cut back holiday spending to your available cash or maybe obtaining a seasonal job to pay for the holidays this year. This is a great time to devise a strategy for next year. Add what you would like to spend for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc. into one lump sum then divide that number by 12. That will give you the amount needed to save every month you can afford to spend. Also, you may be pleasantly surprised with how much further that money will go when you have the funds available throughout the year to take advantage of sales when they become available.

These are just a few ideas to help you develop your own family’s holiday spending plan. If you have any questions or need help creating a family budget please feel free to call our office at 405-878-4697 to arrange a free appointment with one of the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation’s Certified Credit Counselors. If you are not in Oklahoma, we can still help via a telephone.

It is the mission of the CPCDC to promote, educate, and inspire the entrepreneurial growth and financial well-being of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Community through financial education, access to capital, business development services, and innovative capacity building strategies. If you would like to take advantage of any of the CPCDC programs, please call 405-878-4697 or visit our website at www.cpcdc.org.