(NC)—Gifts, decorations and holiday parties can leave your wallet feeling less than jolly during the holidays. According to new research by MasterCard Canada, almost one in five Canadians (17%) admit they don’t budget for the holidays, 10 per cent only start budgeting in December, and almost half (48%) admit they are over budget before the end of the holiday season.
There are ways to have a festive holiday without breaking the bank. Consider these tips to ring in the New Year on budget:
1. Start budgeting in January. With a new calendar year, include a line item in your budget for holiday spending. One-third (37%) of Canadians admit they don’t set a holiday budget until the end of the year, but by then, it may be too late. Start early and save small, by setting aside a little bit each month.
2. Create a realistic budget, and check it twice. According to MasterCard Canada, most Canadians spend around $1,100 on gifts, décor and parties. Plan to spend between $21 and $50 per person on your list, the average spend by one-third of Canadians, and account for all other holiday expenses. Track your expenses closely – you’ll have a good log to cross-reference for an accurate budget for the year ahead.
3. Start shopping early. Don’t wait until the holiday season to start shopping for gifts. Take advantage of sales throughout the year and spread out holiday spending to avoid overwhelming December expenses. Explore online deals and early delivery times and always compare stores for the best prices.
4. Minimize your methods of payment. While cash allows you to restrict the amount of money you withdraw, with no paper trail, it’s difficult to track expenses. Consider relying on one credit card for all purchases and regularly checking your balance online. Use your credit card as a payment tool – not an extension of your income.
5. Transfer your savings, don’t spend them! If you save money on one gift or line item in your budget, treat it as money saved, and don’t spend the savings. Consider putting that money into a high interest savings account for next year’s holiday budget.
The holidays are about being overjoyed, not over spending, so create a budget and stick to it. For more information about holiday budgeting, visit MasterCard.ca.