Who Needs Santa? I Have Credit!

(TORONTO, ON) – With only a handful of days left to purchases those last-minute holiday gifts, many Canadians may find themselves reaching for their credit cards and ringing up unwanted debt this Christmas.

According to a Scotiabank Holiday Shopping poll, 42 per cent of Canadians are feeling the pressure of last-minute holiday spending as a result of putting off their shopping until the middle of December.

“This is the time of year when consumers start to panic and splurge,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “The pressure to find the perfect gift at the last minute has Canadians burying themselves in debt.”

The clock may be ticking on the holiday shopping season, but according to Schwartz, it’s never too late to make a plan.

“Knowing how much you plan to spend before hitting the stores this week can help you avoid starting the New Year in debt.”

To help Canadians steer clear of year-end credit card debt, Consolidated Credit offers these tips take the financial stress out of last-minute holiday shopping:

  • Cash is king: To avoid overspending shop with cash only. When your last bill or coin leaves your wallet, stop shopping.
  • Use credit wisely: If you must use credit, only use those cards or accounts with the lowest interest rates.
  • Plan to pay it off: Before you use credit make sure you have the means to pay it off. If you only make the minimum payments on you debts, you could be financing the holidays over the next decade.
  • Know when to stop: Only shop when you need to shop, and stop when your budget is exhausted or your list is complete – whichever comes first.
  • Cross yourself off the list: Don’t buy yourself a gift. Take your name off the list and give yourself the gift of financial security instead.
  • Get creative: Great gifts don’t need to cost a lot of money. Make homemade treats, assemble photo albums or give of your time.

If you have experienced difficulties sticking to your holiday spending plan this year, don’t give up. Small set-backs don’t mean you have to scrap the entire budget. Instead, adjust your spending accordingly and focus on your goal to start 2013 off on the right foot financially.

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