Boxing Day in Canada is a statutory holiday that happens each year the day after Christmas on December 26. It originates from the United Kingdom when the wealthy used to box up gifts to give to their servants.
Interestingly enough, December 26th isn’t just Boxing Day. It’s also St. Stephen’s Day, a religious holiday in honour of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
Over the years, Boxing Day has evolved into a spending holiday. Canadian retailers offer some of their best bargains of the year to encourage people to spend more. However, if you’ve already overindulged in holiday spending, it can be enough to push your finances over the edge.
Here are some tips to survive Boxing Day without derailing your finances.
Focus on Needs Over Wants
Hopefully you already received most of the gifts you wanted for the holiday season. However, there’s usually a gift or two on our wish list that we didn’t receive and still want. Rather than going out right away on Boxing Day to buy it, try to delay that gratification until next year if possible. Stretch your Boxing Day dollars further by focusing on your needs over your wants.
Instead of buying a new video game system or tv set, buy stuff that you need like a winter coat or winter boots. By doing that you can make better use of any cash gifts you may have received over the holidays.
Give Your Credit Card a Breather
Credit cards offer us plenty of benefits – improved cash flow, consumer protection and reward points to name a few. However, credit cards aren’t without their downsides. Mainly, credit cards make it easier to overspend. You can swipe, insert and tap your credit card and before you know it, you’ve spent a lot more than you planned to.
To avoid credit card statement shock when you receive it in January with your holiday and Boxing Day shopping, give your credit card a breather on Boxing Day. It probably already went the distance over the holidays. Instead, aim to make Boxing Day a cash-only holiday. Put aside a set amount of cash in your wallet that you plan to spend on Boxing Day.
Once the cash is gone, that’s it. You won’t spend anymore. Although making Boxing Day cash-only may require more work on your end, it’s worth it to avoid the shock of a larger than anticipated credit card statement from your Christmas gifts and Boxing Day spending.
Don’t Browse, Be Strategic
On Boxing Day, it’s easy to get caught up in a spending frenzy and aimlessly browse. When you do that, you’ll end up spending more money than you wanted to. Even if you just go window shopping, it can lead to trips inside the store if you see something you “must have.” If you do end up spending any money on Boxing Day, be strategic about it. Similar to when you prepare your list of Christmas presents, come prepared with a list for Boxing Day.
By knowing exactly what you want, you can go in and out of stores without falling for the sales tactics of retailers. Take the time to check flyers and coupons ahead of time. Also, shop with a purpose. Take your Boxing Day list to the store with you to stop yourself from straying and buying an extra gift or two, which can easily turn into three or four.
Protect Yourself from Fraud
Next to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Boxing Day is one of the biggest spending days of the year. As such, fraudsters up the ante by looking to take advantage of unsuspecting Canadians.
Boxing Day isn’t just a holiday that happens in store. It happens online as well. Unless you live in Vancouver, the weather is usually pretty chilly outside. If you don’t feel like braving the cold at 5am to take advantage of a door crasher special, you might opt to shop online.
When shopping online, make sure it’s with a trusted retailer. Before entering your credit card information, make sure the website is trustworthy and secure. There should be a security icon (most commonly a padlock) and an “S” at the beginning of the page web address (like https://)
It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for fraud, especially around the holidays and Boxing Day. You can do that by regularly reviewing your credit card statement online or on mobile device. If you see anything suspicious, report it to your credit card company right away.
You’ll also want to get into the habit of regularly reviewing your credit reports. If you see anything suspicious like a credit card you don’t recognize or unauthorized spending, you should report it right away to help keep your good credit score intact.
Aim for a Quick Recovery
Boxing Day sales can present a great opportunity to get a head start on next year’s holiday shopping. However, it’s easy to let your spending spiral out of control. What used to be Boxing Day has become Boxing week, as retailers aim to stretch out deals throughout the entire week to get you to spend more.
If you overindulge in the post-Christmas sales, aim for a quick recovery. Overindulging on Boxing Day usually involves taking on credit card debt. If you already took on credit card debt to finance the holiday season, it can be enough to push you over the edge. At this point, the last thing you want is to go further into debt from Boxing Day.
If you incur credit card debt from Boxing Day, aim to pay it off quickly in 60 to 90 days; the sooner, the better. By paying off your holiday and Boxing Day debt quickly, you can minimize costly interest charges and start saving towards the goals that matter most like retirement and the down payment for a home.
Need some to keep your Boxing Day spending under control? Call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 for a helping hand.