Started your shopping for the holidays yet?

Although the holiday music isn’t piping through the malls and there isn’t a snowflake in sight, if you haven’t already started shopping for the holidays yet, you should get to it. shopping for the holidays

According to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) in 2015:

  • Respondents on average planned to spend $776 on holiday gifts
  • Twenty-seven per cent said they planned to spend over $800, while 23 per cent planned to spend $200 or less
  • Last year, 39 per cent of respondents saved throughout the year to defray costs of holiday shopping; 29 per cent intend to budget for 2016

“Don’t wait until you are in the holiday spirit to get to your holiday shopping. The best way to avoid a holiday debt hangover is to set a budget early in the year and to shop a little every month,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“By doing your holiday shopping gradually, you will be able to more easily spend within your means. You’ll be able to pay cash as you go and leave the credit cards at home. The best present you can give to yourself is a January without debt and extra bills to pay, says Schwartz”

Make your list and check it twice

Start by making a comprehensive list, with potential gift ideas and dollar amounts attached. You can set out a plan as to when you buy each of the gifts, based on the season or how it fits in the budget.

Think about it. Your spending will likely increase by several hundred dollars. Will your income increase to match? Probably not. Keep debt at bay by making a detailed budget and sticking to it.

Be the leader

If you have an extended family for which you need to buy gifts, maybe this is the year to retool or rethink your gift giving strategy. Consult other family members to gauge their feelings on gift giving. Perhaps you can limit gifts to a certain dollar amount, draw names, commit to DIY gifts or buy for the children only. All of these will cut your costs by quite a bit. And because you are planning so far in advance, it’s easier to gain a consensus and keep the holiday harmonious.

All kinds of benefits

While the major benefit of shopping early is that you can keep your budget intact, there are other bonuses to shopping for the holiday season in the off-season. For one thing, you’ll beat the crowds. You won’t have to battle it out in the parking lot for a spot; selection of goods are generally going to be better right now as well.

Another benefit is that you won’t be rushed. Rushing usually means being forced to make snap purchasing decisions, which can blow your budget out the window.

Are you still trying to catch up from holiday spending from last year? Is your debt load growing rather than shrinking? Maybe it is time to rethink your approach. Contact one of our trained credit counsellors at or visit our free online debt analysis.

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