Holiday Budgets

Who doesn’t spend just a little more on gifts than planned? In the spirit of moderation, these tips should keep the holiday bills under control while acknowledging that we like to spend money on the people we love and appreciate this time of year.

1. Use only cash for Christmas.

If you love the convenience of plastic, reach for your debit card instead of your credit card. If you know you will use credit, debt counsellor Alisha says to sit down before you go to the mall and determine how much you can afford to charge and pay the balance off within 30 days.

Those who resort to using credit should use no more than two cards, advised counsellors with Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. One card should have a low interest rate and be used for purchases you will pay off over time. The other should be paid in full when the bill arrives.

2. Make a list and check it twice.

Just like the song. Write down everyone you wish to buy for and how much you plan to spend. What about that extra person you forget to add? Well, you’re obviously not going to skip Uncle Joe, but you must cut from someplace else to afford his gift.

3. Stick to a realistic budget.

Some financial experts say to spend no more than 1.5 percent of your yearly income before taxes. If you made $40,000, you could spend $600 on holiday gifts, decorations and celebrations.

4. Be open to keeping it simple.

If you’d like to adjust the focus of the holidays to family and friends, but still love the shopping that’s become a tradition in itself, try a hybrid. Get everyone to settle on a maximum spending amount. Or switch to a system of giving a nicer gift to just one person whose name you pull out of a hat.

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