We’ve all been guilty of overspending during the holidays and experiencing that pang of anxiety once our credit card bills arrive in January. In fact, the average Canadian spends around $1,593 over the holidays, including gifts, travel, entertainment, and food. Being clever with holiday spending, however, and creating a Christmas budget will not only help you to enjoy your holidays, but also to reduce the stress that comes with overdue bills after Christmas. By keeping these holiday spending tips in mind, you can rein in holiday spending like a pro. In this article, we share our holiday spending money guide.
Check who’s on your holiday gift list
A key consideration of your holiday spending money guide should be gifts. Of course, we would all like to make sure everyone in our lives receives a gift during the holidays from our families to the mailman, yet it is simply not realistic. A good idea is to talk to your family and friends about a holiday plan. Can you perhaps agree to just buy the children gifts? Do you need to pay to travel, or can family come to you instead? Can you set a budget for gifts? Perhaps you can make a small charity donation instead of exchanging holiday gifts, or at least keep your holiday gift list to a minimum. Christmas is about family and friends after all, not just gifts. The earlier you begin to plan your holiday spending money guide, the more time you have to be creative with your ideas. Perhaps you can get crafty and make your own gifts on a budget while you have the time.
Create a holiday budget
A crucial part of any holiday spending money guide is reviewing and deciding what you can afford – check out our guide to creating a Christmas budget. It may be helpful to write a list of everything and everyone you need to add to a holiday shopping list, from holiday parties to gift recipients. Add an approximate budget next to each, then determine how you can cut this list down. Do you really need to attend all of those holiday parties, or can you spend valuable time with a loved one instead? Use your holiday budget on a spreadsheet to figure out what is most important to you, and where you can cut back. Doing this sooner rather than later will give you time to decide and manage others’ expectations. You should then have a total limit on your holiday spending money, and should stick to this as closely as you can to avoid any nasty surprises in January.
Look for opportunities for additional income
If you have created your Christmas budget and feel that your holiday spending money guide is looking a little lean, perhaps you can look for ways to gain a little extra income over the holidays. Plenty of companies need extra staff in the run up to the holidays, from stores to delivery companies. See if you can take on some extra shifts in your job to help ease the financial strain of the holidays. Perhaps you can sell some items from around the house that you no longer need for some extra cash. Or maybe you can turn your hobby into a side hustle to sell on sites like Etsy, or taking on some freelancing gigs. There are plenty of ways to generate a little additional income that can make all the difference over the holidays.
Save for holiday spending money
The earlier you begin your holiday spending money guide, the more time you have to get saving! If you have not already started putting money away, you can implement this tip for next year’s holiday period. It is a good idea to prepare your Christmas budget as far in advance as possible so that you know how many recipients to buy gifts for, and roughly how much these holiday gifts will cost you. You then have a target to save for. Then it is simply a case of finding opportunities to put aside money throughout the year – our guide on how to save money offers some helpful tips. Perhaps you need to cut back on expenses like takeaway coffees and dining out to put towards your holiday goals.
Pay for holiday expenses with cash
A key tip from our holiday spending money guide is to look at your Christmas budget and take out the amount you have dedicated to each item in cash. If money is tight, you should not rely on your credit card for holiday shopping. It is easy to get tempted and overspend, which in turn can lead to credit card debt. Sticking to your holiday budget is easier when you see the money leaving your hands. Once the cash is gone, you cannot spend any more. Spending in cash also means you won’t have to deal with the interest that accrues when you don’t make a full payment on time. If you are using your credit card, do not spend what you cannot afford to pay in full at the end of the month. If you do find yourself racking up bills, check out our guide to paying off Christmas debt.
Look for holiday deals
One of the keys to a successful holiday spending money guide is shopping smartly and looking for the best holiday deals, as well as using coupons. Most stores have price-match policies, which are worth investigating. Details vary from store to store but make sure you’re getting the best price for your holiday gifts by checking printed and online flyers before you make a purchase. If you find a better price, bring the flyer with you to the store to receive the difference on previous purchases. You should keep an eye on deals leading up to December. Sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer deep discounts that will help you stick to your holiday shopping budget. Try shopping throughout the year too. Discounts on bigger ticket items, for example, will be better at some times of the year more than others. Consult online guides like Lifehacker to potentially save even more.
It is challenging not to get wrapped up in all of the festivities, but remember that family and friends are the most important part of the holidays. If you have questions on our holiday spending money guide, book a free consultation with one of our experienced Licensed Insolvency Trustees. You can also use our debt calculator to see how different forms of debt relief could help you to enjoy your holidays to the full.