Where did my money go?

(TORONTO, ON) – With two weeks to go until the big day, many Canadians may find themselves with a handful of gifts left to buy, but no money in their holiday budgets.

Instead of pulling out the credit cards to take on even more credit card debt, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., offers helpful tips to celebrate a joyous holiday season without overextending the budget.

“No matter how much we budget, plan and save for the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of holiday spending,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit. “More often than not, we lose sight of the true meaning of the season and set ourselves up for a nasty holiday debt hangover.”

Whether it’s the need to buy ‘just one more present’ or the pressure to get the season’s hottest gift, Canadians don’t seem to know how to stop shopping after the holiday budget has been busted.

“It’s at this point in the season when most Canadians will reach into their wallets and pull out the emergency credit card,” added Schwartz. “Instead of going further into debt, maybe this is the moment where consumers should be asking themselves if holiday shopping really constitutes an emergency.”

To help check the last few names off the holiday list, Consolidated Credit offers these creative tips to take care of those final holiday gifts:

  • Leave the plastic at home: If you have already maxed out your budget, using credit cards will only cause more financial distress. If you must make a purchase, use cash.
  • Cash in reward points: Check out offerings from the loyalty programs you subscribe to. Use the points you have accumulated to purchase gift cards or gifts from their catalogues.
  • Start a new holiday tradition: Focus on friends and family by giving them quality time with you as volunteers at a local shelter or food bank instead of giving gifts.
  • Give off yourself: Create gift certificates offering services to your friends, neighbours and family. Gifts that represent the true spirit of the holidays are more meaningful than something you can buy in a store.
  • Sell items online: One man’s junk is another’s treasure. Gather items that you no longer use and sell them at second hand stores or on websites like Kijiji and eBay. Use the extra cash to make your final purchases or to pay off the ones that busted your budget in the first place.

If you have truly extended your holiday budget, it’s time to put the credit cards away and stop spending money you don’t have. Homemade gifts, new traditions and time together are just a few of the many ways to give gifts without going overboard on spending.

This year, celebrate a debt free winter holiday with money saving strategies and helpful tips from the Holiday Survival Guide. Before making another holiday purchase, remember that having creating a plan to be debt free in 2013 is the best gift you can give this year.

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