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Holiday Survival Guide, Part 1:
Deciding What You Need to Make the Holidays Successful

holiday survival

The holidays are a time of joy where you should be celebrating with friends and family. Unfortunately, with the average Canadian family spending close to $1,400 each year to celebrate, the holidays can also bring a significant amount of stress and financial strain to your life. In order to get through the holidays successfully, you need to have a clear plan for your holiday spending each year.

Don’t let concerns about money and fear of debt put a damper on your holiday plans. Read this handy Holiday Survival Guide and download the PDF to help you get through the holidays successfully. If you are still concerned or need to address current issues with debt before the holidays, call Consolidated Credit at 1-888-287-8506 to speak with a trained credit counsellor. You can also take the first step online by completing a request for a Free Debt Analysis.

Step 1: Decide What You Need to Make the Holidays a Success

Your first step in creating an effective holiday plan that helps keep your spending down, and helps you avoid depending on credit, is to determine exactly what you need and what will be involved in making your family’s holiday season special this year. Answering the following questions can help you get a complete picture of what your holiday spending plan needs to cover.

Gifts: Who are you buying gifts for this year and what do you want to give each person?
  • How many family members do you want to buy for and what will you buy each person?
  • Are you buying only for your immediate family or for your extended family as well?
  • Will you give gifts to friends or friends of the family?
  • Do your kids want to give gifts to any of their friends, coaches or teachers?
  • Are you giving anything to your neighbours?
  • Will you give gifts to your boss or co-workers?
  • Do you want to make any charitable donations this year?

Travel: Will you be travelling anywhere during the holiday season?
  • If so, will you be driving to your destination or taking a flight?
  • If so, do you need to make hotel reservations or will you stay with relatives/friends?
  • If so, do you need to hire a pet sitter that can come to your home or will you make arrangements to board your pets at a kennel?
  • Do you need to hire someone to take care of your home while you’re away?
  • If you are flying, will you rent a car when you reach your destination or can you use public transportation and get picked up from the airport by friends or family?

Decorations: Are you buying any new decorations for this holiday season?
  • Could you use existing decorations to avoid making new purchases?
  • If you are buying a tree, are you getting your tree live or would it be more cost effective to get a fake tree that you can reuse every year?
  • If you’re hanging lights and some of your existing light strands don’t work, can you take time to find the bulb that’s causing the problem and replace it individually or do you need to replace the whole strand of lights?

Meals: What kind of holiday meals will you be cooking and hosting this year?
  • How many guests do you plan on attending each meal?
  • Will it be a full dinner with multiple courses, family-style serving, a buffet or a simply party where you only serve appetizers?
  • Could you ask your guests to bring dishes or make the meal potluck?
  • If you are hosting a full dinner, how many courses do you want to serve?
  • Will you serve more than one main dish to give guests options or can all of your guests eat the same thing?
  • Do you need to have more than one dessert option?
  • Do you plan on serving cocktails, beer or wine? If so, will you be supplying all of the drinks or can you make the event BYOB?

Guests: Will any friends or family be staying with you over the holidays?
  • How many days do the guests plan on staying with you?
  • Will you need to buy bedding, toiletries or any other household items for their stay?
  • Will your guests have any effect on your regular weekly grocery costs?
  • Do you think your guests are staying long enough to increase your utility costs?

Holiday Shipping: How much money will you need for shipping this season?
  • Do you plan on sending holiday cards via post?
  • If so, how many cards do you want to send and how much will you need for postage?
  • Do you need to send any gifts through the mail this year?
  • If so, can you schedule your shopping to send them early enough to use low-cost ground shipping options or will you need to send the package by express or air mail?

An Important Note to Start Your Holiday Planning Early

More and more, smart shoppers are getting ahead of winter holiday costs by starting their shopping as early as possible. While in the past Black Friday used to be the start of the holiday shopping season, recent studies show about four out of ten Canadians (41%) now start their holiday shopping by the beginning of November. This allows consumers to spread out the expense of the holidays over several months, while using Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to their best advantage.

A Smart Holiday Shopping Strategy from Consolidated Credit:

You can take the following steps to help maximize your holiday savings and minimize holiday stress. With this strategy, you should start your holiday shopping no later than early November:

  1. Read this Holiday Survival Guide in-full to help you create an accurate and effective holiday spending plan; you should develop this plan as early as possible in the year.

  2. Once your plan is ready, you should go online and use a free price comparison tool to determine where you can get the best price for each of the items on your shopping list.

  3. Compare advertised prices now to any Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale prices you find; many retailers start advertising or at least announce these sales online starting in October.

  4. If there is not a significant difference between the prices offered now and the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale prices, you should purchase those items now instead of leaving them for the biggest shopping days of the year.

  5. Save your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping for real bargains that you find – especially on big-ticket purchases.

  6. By the end of Cyber Monday, you should be done or close to done with all of your holiday shopping. This will help you get more enjoyment out of the holiday season throughout December, because you won’t have to worry about getting everything done.

To continue making an effective plan in keeping your holiday costs down, please go to Step 2: Developing an Effective Holiday Spending Plan. If you have questions or need help, call Consolidated Credit at 1-888-287-8506 to speak with a trained credit counsellor.

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