Whether it’s co-ordinating an elaborate holiday party, finding the perfect gift for a loved one or splurging on the endless holiday sales racks, many Canadians find themselves opening their wallet more often than they should leading up to the new year.
“The holidays are stressful, which most often leads to impulsive spending.,” says Jeffrey F. Schwartz, the executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and an expert in the fields of counselling, debt management and financial education. “However, you can escape unscathed if you take the time to plan your holiday spending in advance, a concept that unfortunately a lot of Canadians don’t practice.”
Schwartz, who has seen his share of holiday guilt, noted that there are definite ways that consumers can stay financially healthy during this time of year. He offers these holiday money management tips:
- Focus on the experience and not the gifts.
- Create a family gift-making project: A timely tip for a frugal economy. Get the whole family involved in a gift-making project creating themed gift baskets, framed photos or scrapbooks or homemade breads and jams. You can even create extra, so you have last-minute gifts on hand.
- Plan ahead: Make a list of people and gifts. Don’t purchase items just because they are on sale.
- Stick to a budget: If that seems easier said than done, use the holiday spending planner worksheets on https://www.consolidatedcredit.ca to plan your holiday spending.
- Only use two credit cards: Try limiting yourself to a low-rate credit card for any purchases that you may need to pay off over time and another credit card you can pay in full when the bill arrives. Write down your holiday purchases when you make them so you don’t lose track of your spending. • Play Secret Santa: Surprise neighbors or family members with good deeds without getting caught.
- Give of yourself: In other words, utilize your talents. Create gift certificates offering personal services like grocery shopping, menu planning, babysitting or housekeeping.
- Ask for gift receipts: This makes returns or exchanges easier on the recipient and you know that your gift will not go unused or unworn.
- Make a day of the holiday. Plan a special activity for the afternoon or the day after the holiday and focus on spending time with those you love.
- Be thankful: Don’t lose sight of the things that are really important. Take time for yourself during the holidays to reflect on why you are celebrating in the first place.