Christmas is 23 days away. With the holiday shopping season underway, Iowans are reminded to keep a tight leash on spending so they don’t blow their budgets. Kathy Gaines, branch manager for Consumer Credit Counseling in Mason City, says Santa had a good idea with making a list as the practice can help keep you out of the red — and in the green. Make a list of who you want to buy gifts for and what you want to buy then stick to the list. Don’t add to the list once you’ve started shopping or you may spend over your budget and jeopardize your basic bills. Gaines says credit card bills can add up quickly during the holidays, so make sure you are not putting too many purchases on plastic. Gaines says not to put an amount on your credit card that you can’t pay off in three months, otherwise you’ll get hit with high interest rates. If you use a debit card, she says to make sure you keep track of how much you spend. Remember to write the amounts down in your check book so you don’t bounce a check, and hang on to the receipts in case you need to make a return. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers spent around 23-billion dollars nationwide over the Thanksgiving weekend. There are Consumer Credit Counseling offices across Iowa that offer free advice on getting out of debt. For more information, call 800-955-5765.