It’s that time of year again. Likely you are among the majority of Canadians who will soon be celebrating, gift-giving and entertaining this holiday season.
The downside of all of the family and social time, travel, merriment – and presents – is the spending that occurs to make it all happen. Christmas in particular is highly-promoted commercially; as consumers we are bombarded to buy, buy and buy and the retailers are starting to advertise and prepare for the holiday season earlier and earlier.
February and March are often the busiest times in our office. We find holiday spending, mostly on credit cards, can be that final ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ for many people. Debt loads that may have already been stretched before the holidays may now be pushed to the limit and with the New Year more people are looking for a fresh start.
There are strategies to help avoid the temptation to overspend.
There are a few good strategies to implement to keep your holiday spending within a set budget:
- Have a discussion with your family (including children) about ways to celebrate the spirit of the season while being ‘low consumers’. Rather than buying lots of toys for example, explore activities to do together as a family that are low-cost, fun and build shared memories.
- Secondly, you may consider not exchanging gifts in your family at all and instead donate a modest amount to charity, or volunteer together with a agency serving a holiday meal to people in need.
- If you are planning on exchanging gifts, you might elect to save up in advance of the holidays so you know exactly what you can afford to spend.
- Set a modest budget and choose not to use credit cards this way it will help you to avoid impulse buying or overspending.
- Another great idea (and growing consumer trend) is exchanging homemade gifts or services among family and friends. If you are planning large family meals, make it ‘pot luck’ where everyone brings a dish. This keeps the cost (and work!) manageable for everyone.
Take some time now to reflect on your wishes for the holidays, plan your approach and your budget . . . and you truly may enjoy—a Happy New Year!
Here is a recent consumer report (Calgary Global News) on managing debt during the holidays: http://globalnews.ca/news/939201/get-a-handle-on-debt-before-the-christmas-crunch-warn-experts/
If you are facing financial struggles or an unmanageable debt load—one of our professionals is available to provide options for your situation. We can help you explore a consumer proposal; bankruptcy is not your only option. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation, toll free from anywhere in Alberta 310 8888 or visit www.gt.alger.ca.