Keeping Your Holiday Budget Intact

The average Canadian plans to spend more than $1600

(TORONTO, ON) – There is just one week remaining in the holiday shopping season, and unless you have your holiday budget intact, panic may be setting in.

Holiday BudgetThe Twitter elves at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada have been busy since September, tweeting daily tips to help Canadians reduce holiday debt in the 100 days leading up to Christmas, using the hashtag #100Days100Ways at @ConsolidatedCA.

The campaign was designed to curb the seemingly annual tradition of December 23rd being the busiest shopping day of the year.

When you’re down to the wire, you’re stressed, you don’t have time to look for deals, and you’re picking through leftovers on store shelves,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit.  “If you’re shopping on the 23rd, your holiday budget will likely suffer.”

According to BMO’s 2015 Holiday Outlook, the average Canadian plans to spend $1,607 on holiday purchases, including gifts, travel, and entertainment:

Purchases Atlantic Canada Quebec Ontario Manitoba and Saskatchewan Alberta BC Average
Gifts $869 $422 $558 $608 $622 $585 $610
Trips $550 $389 $790 $479 $1,202 $683 $682
Entertaining $225 $186 $222 $224 $354 $225 $239
Other (decorations) $89 $63 $77 $65 $77 $78 $75
TOTAL $1,733 $1,060 $1,647 $1,376 $2,255 $1,571 $1,607

 

Schwartz says Canadians need to pare down their budgets wherever possible in order to avoid high levels of holiday debt.

We know half of Canadians are living paycheque-to-paycheque and savings rates are near all-time lows,” says Schwartz.  “$1,600 won’t come out of thin air and I worry that people will simply reach for their credit cards.”

In order to minimize the January debt hangover, Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit make the following recommendations on ensuring your holiday budget stays intact:

Figure out a maximum spend. Don’t go shopping, credit card drawn, with an “I’ll figure it out later” mentality. Construct a holiday budget that you can reasonably afford, and if you must go into debt, make sure it is a manageable amount.

Assign amounts to your list. It might feel a little Scrooge-like, but it can be a good idea to divvy up your total gift budget by writing dollar figures next to names.  This will keep you on-target and will keep your heart strings from overtaking your purse strings. 

Use cash. Add an extra level of impulse-protection by leaving your credit cards at home.  Bring your budgeted amount in cash, and once that cash disappears, you are finished shopping.

BYOCC (Christmas Cheer). Canadians plan to spend an average of $239 on holiday entertaining.  Cut this number in half by answering “yes” when people ask if there is anything they can bring to your party.

It’s the thought that counts. In tough economic times, the old gift-giving cliché couldn’t be more true.  When we think about the holidays, we remember experiences, not materials.  Give of yourself, and not something that was left on the shelf on the 23rd.

 

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, Manager of Community and Public Relations, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 647-390-5253, F: 416-915-5200, E: jmacdonald@consolidatedcredit.ca

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Shivani Karwal
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pr@consolidatedcredit.ca
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