Are you, like most of Americans, afraid of racking up 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 to help avoid a holiday spending hangover and help relieve the stress of the season.

Create a list: Write up a list the people who you’d like to buy a gift for and reach out to those individual’s for ideas on what they’d like. You can ask them to make their Amazon wish list public or at least give you a few items they want or need. Once you decide what to buy, don’t deviate from the list. 

Give of your time: The holidays are when we usually feel 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. Nursing homes are an especially lonely time for a lot of our elders, so why not donate a few hours to visit with the elders of your community? You never know what you might learn. You will want to call ahead for visiting hours and ask to be connected with someone who would appreciate your company. 

Pay cash: While it is tempting to buy Christmas gifts with your credit card, it could have long-term consequences. Remember every time you swipe a credit card, you are agreeing to a loan. If you do not like to carry cash, please consider acquiring a debit card which is accepted anywhere credit cards are. With a debit card you can spend money you already have instead of creating debt that can haunt you all for the rest of the year.

Make and implement a plan: This year the plan may be to cut back holiday spending to your available cash supplies or maybe to obtain a seasonal job to pay for the holidays. 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, etc. into one lump sum then divide that number by 12 to arrive at the amount you need to save every month. 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 the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation at 405-878-4697 to arrange a free appointment with one of the CPCDC’s three certified credit counselors. If you are not in Oklahoma, we can still help via a telephone appointment. Learn more at