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10 ways to curb your Christmas spending

November 29, 2019

Are you stressing out over the festive season because your gift list is too long?

According to the 2019 Deloitte Holiday Retail Outlook released this fall, the average Canadian plans to spend $1,706 on holiday gifts, travel, food and alcohol. That’s more than many people spend on their monthly rent or mortgage. In addition, 79 per cent expect to spend the same if not more than they did last year.

But if you consider that Statistics Canada reports the average Canadian owes $1.77 (including mortgages and consumer debt such as credit cards) for every dollar of disposable income and that one in three Canadians reported their overall financial situation has worsened from 2018 to 2019, there is reason to pause before diving into the holiday shopping season.

So, is it all necessary and are Canadians spending too much? While it’s a personal decision and if you’ve been hunting down deals all year long and squirreling them away – kudos to you – we’ve collected 10 tips to help you rein in your Christmas spending.

1) Make a spending plan. Put it on your cellphone so when you’re out at the mall or spending online – you can refer to it. Once you have a plan, stick to it and avoid emotional purchases.

2) Buy less expensive gifts. It’s not a competition. And we’re sure you’ve already heard the saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” But it really is.

3) Track your spending. January will be here sooner than you think. You can write it down or use an app, but when you keep an eye on the bottom line. A one-week check in on the running tally will help you keep things on track.

4) Prioritize gift giving. The kids, for example, can come first and limit the number of family and friends you purchase for. If you have a large family, for example, agree to set a budget of $25 or $30 and draw names.

5) Skip your honey. That may sound odd, but there’s another option. Instead of planning for an expensive gift, why not go out for a romantic dinner or a mini-weekend getaway after the hustle and bustle of the holidays?

6) Pay in cash. Nothing can keep you in check more than watching the money go out of your wallet. Resist the temptation to use your credit card, which only delays the pain. If you’re trying to collect points and are really disciplined – which many of us are not – pay it off as soon as you make the purchase.

7) Keep a separate account. It may be too late for this for this season, put many financial professionals suggest keeping your Christmas money in a separate account and adding to it throughout the year.

8) Give special “coupons.” Instead of purchasing a gift, there are other ways to give: a night of babysitting, car detailing, romantic dinner at home – the list is endless. Be creative!

9) Be flexible with travel. Sometimes you can save money by travelling at off times or carpooling with people heading the same way to save on fuel costs.

10) Learn from last year. If you spent too much last year and it took several months to recover, try to “remember” that feeling. It may help keep you on track.

RELATED READING: 8 apps to help you organize your holiday gifts