American Center for Credit Education
ACCE Home News About Us Contact Us For Businesses
Recent Updates

Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

Valentine's Day On A Budget

What Will You do With Your Tax Cut?

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Q. I love the holidays, but I always overdo it and end up with debt I didn’t plan on.  What can I do to keep this from happening this year?

A. Recognizing that you have a tendency to overspend at the holidays is a good place to start. And the best way to combat overspending is to make a holiday spending plan.

First, make a list of everyone you plan to buy gifts for. If you have a significant other or a spouse, make this list together.  As you create your list, think back to last year. Who did you buy a gift for?  Did you purchase gifts for extended family members, teachers, co-workers, or neighbors?  What about people who provide services for you, such as your mail carrier?  Will you plan to give him or her a gift? 

Once you have a complete list of names, the next step is to write down a tentative amount you plan to spend on each person.

You aren’t done with your list yet, though. Next, you need to consider a number of other expenses as part of your holiday spending plan. What do you plan to spend on holiday decorations?  Will your utility bills increase when you light up your house and tree this year?

Will you be traveling during the holidays?  Where will you stay, and what will this cost?  How much do you think you will spend on travel expenses?  How much extra will you spend on gas during the holidays?

What about food?  All of the extras for a holiday meal can quickly add up. Are you planning to bake holiday goodies?   Will you host a holiday party or send out cards? Add these expenses to your list. 

Now add up the total of your anticipated holiday expenses.  How do you plan to pay for all them?  Will you pay cash or charge them?  If you plan to charge your purchases, how long will it take you to repay what you borrow?

Taking a telescopic view of your holiday expenses is essential to help you plan ahead. But a more microscopic view can be helpful, too. Review your list and pause.  Ask yourself what you remember most about last year’s holiday season. Ask your family, too. Do you remember what you gave and received, or do you have other, stronger memories? 

Given these reflections, it’s time to consider if you need to adjust your list. Be realistic as you consider what you plan to spend in the season ahead.  Are you spending your hard-earned money on things you value? Are you going into debt for gifts that people don’t remember?  Are there alternatives that will let you celebrate the season without overspending? 

If you are going to charge your expenses this holiday season, use only one card. Otherwise, it is easy to fool yourself about what you are spending; spreading out expenses over several cards can make it easy to break your budget.  Use one card so that you can stay in control of your finances and follow your plan.

When you shop, keep your list with you—and stick to it! Sticking to your list is your great defense against overspending.  If you do deviate from your list, know that you will need to modify your spending elsewhere. 

The better you plan, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the holiday season. Come January, you’ll be glad you did.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.