How to plan a holiday season that is big on fun but light on the budget
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the costliest. Canadians from coast to coast plan to open their wallets for some holiday spending to make the holiday season a memorable one. According to a recent survey by Field Agent Canada found that Canadians plan to spend an average of $875 on gifts, decorations, and holiday food.
|Average planned holiday spending by province, 2015|
|2. Nova Scotia||$960|
|3. New Brunswick||$950|
|4. British Columbia||$907|
|7. Prince Edward Island||$837|
Figures from Field Agent Canada’s 2015 Holiday Spending Survey
Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit, says he understands the holiday spirit, but wonders where the money is coming from.
“We know that half of Canadians are living paycheque-to-paycheque, and savings levels are near all-time lows,” says Schwartz. “I worry that the extra $875 in holiday spending will be done with credit cards.”
Using Consolidated Credit’s credit card debt calculator, Schwartz ran the numbers on the price Canadians would pay by making only minimum payments on an $875 balance.
“It would take you more than eight years, and it would cost you nearly $800 in interest – almost the same amount that you spent on the holidays,” cautions Schwartz. “Do you really want to be paying for Christmas 2015 in 2023?”
Schwartz advocates sticking to a plan before, during, and after the holiday season, and his team at Consolidated Credit offers the following tips:
Figure out what you can afford to spend. Come up with an amount that reasonably fits in your budget. During the holiday season, give yourself extra room in your budget by cutting back on other discretionary spending like restaurants and entertainment.
Make a list and check it twice. With the money that you have budgeted, write out a shopping list. Write down the friends and family that will receive gifts from you, and don’t forge the holiday extras like decorations and food. Assign a dollar value to each item on your list.
Stick to the plan. Bring the list with you to the mall, or have it sitting next to your mousepad if you’re shopping online. Don’t spend outside your allotted amounts and don’t give in to last-minute impulse purchases. You created that list for a reason – why throw away your hard work?
Stay on the ball in January. When the dust settles, it’s time to create your repayment plan. If you’re carrying a credit card balance from the holidays, you need to pay it down as soon as possible. Put your credit card on ice and cut costs wherever you can. Every extra dollar you put toward your balance will dramatically speed up repayment. Try to create deadline for getting rid of holiday debt – March Break might be a good target.
Is the upcoming holiday season stressing you out because you’re deep in debt? If you’re having trouble keeping up with your credit card, call to speak with our counsellors and avoid a blue Christmas. You can also get started online by trying our Free Debt Analysis.