Tips to avoid going into debt this holiday season

'Tis the season for giving, but should you give until you go into debt? Your Christmas gifts may be costing more than you realize.

Shoppers are swiping their cards and handing out cash for those perfect holiday gifts.

Dr. Phil Hestand with Arkansas State University said impulse buying is a huge problem, not just during the holidays but year round. He said buying items to make yourself or others happy is not the answer.

"When we buy it and have it in our hands and immediately take it home, not only at a psychological level but at a physiological level, there's a rush of dopamine in the brain that goes to our pleasure and reward center. It's almost like a drug rush in a lot of ways," Dr. Hestand said.

He also said changing your perspective might help determine if you truly need the item you're thinking about buying.

"People who like to buy large dollar items for gifts at Christmas, you really need to ask yourself am I willing to give up a month of my life to purchase that," Dr. Hestand said. "The real cost is not just in dollars but in the time you've spent at work to earn that money."

Dr. Hestand recommends you make a gift budget for yourself and stick to it.

He said to also be in the right frame of mind when you go shopping. Don't go when you're tired or stressed.

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