Attention shoppers, start your engines!

(TORONTO, ON) -The reindeer are groomed and the sled is waxed – Santa has one week remaining before he hits the skies, and the Holiday shopping season is in the home stretch. For 93 days, Consolidated Credit has been busier than elves, providing daily savings tips on Twitter with our “#100Days100Ways to Save for Christmas” campaign.

You might be one of the many Canadians on the naughty list who failed to get their shopping done. If you think you can resist the trappings of impulse purchases and the over-spending that comes with it – statistics are against you:

  • The busiest shopping day of 2013 was December 23rd, with transactions peaking between 1:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. EST, at 439 transactions per second (Moneris).
  • 57 per cent of Canadians admit to making impulse purchases during the holiday season (BMO).
  • 14 per cent of people surveyed anticipated taking on holiday debt last year, but 28 per cent actually did, with an average of $963 in debt. (BMO)

We are at that point in the Holidays when consumers start to panic, and tend to splurge on last-minute gifts,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “The pressure to find the perfect gift at the last minute has Canadians burying themselves in debt.”

The clock may be ticking on the holiday shopping season, but according to Schwartz, it’s never too late to make a plan.

The last thing any consumer wants is to see their debt snowball out of control. Setting a budget and planning your spending before hitting the mall can help you avoid piling on even more unnecessary financial stress.”

Consolidated Credit would like to help Canadians beat the odds and avoid last-minute shopping debt. Here’s a list of tips to keep in mind this week:

  • Budget: Take a look at how much you can realistically spend on last-minute gifts, and what gifts you still have to purchase. Assign a dollar amount to each gift, and stick to this plan.
  • Shop with cash: To avoid overspending, shop with cash only. When your last bill or coin leaves your wallet, stop shopping. No gift is worth ruining your financial health.
  • Use credit wisely: If you must use credit, only use those cards or accounts with the lowest interest rates. Keep a close eye on your online statement and keep track of what you spend.
  • Make a plan to pay it off: If you are using credit, make sure you have the means to pay it off. If you only make the minimum payments on you debts, you could easily be financing the holidays over the next decade with interest costs eclipsing the original amount.
  • Shop savvy: The clock is ticking but you don’t have to shop impulsively. There are last-minute deals out there; research ahead of time and target your shopping.
  • Get creative: Great gifts don’t need to cost a lot of money. Make homemade crafts, assemble photo albums or give of your time. Memories and experiences will last longer than any gift you can buy in a store.

Last-minute shopping happens every year, but cooler heads can prevail,” adds Schwartz. “Minimize your debt now and position yourself for a financially-fit 2015.

About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.

For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:

Jacob MacDonald, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 647-390-5253, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected]

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