With festive window displays, attractive sales and shopping bags overflowing with gifts, it can be tempting to splurge during the holiday season and take on too much debt.
If the thought of your impending holiday bank statement makes you anxious, consider these tips from TD Canada Trust on how to avoid the spending habit that haunts many Canadians well into the New Year:
• Review your past splurges – Take a look at your online transactions history or bank statements from last year to get a better idea of how much you spent and what you bought during the holidays. If you used a credit card and carried a debt, figure out how long it took you to pay it off. If holiday shopping left a dent in your wallet, you may want to rethink your spending strategy this year.
• Make a list, and check it twice – Before you hit the malls, set a budget and make a holiday shopping list. Avoid impulse buying when tempted by catchy displays and alluring deals that may sway you from your list. Remember it’s the thought that counts, so look for meaningful gifts that won’t end up at the back of the closet.
• Make a plan – First, figure out how much you can afford to spend on parties this season. Think about the events you attended and hosted last year and look through your old bank statements to get a rough figure on how much you spent. You may be surprised at what you find.
• Set a budget – Create a budget for what you can realistically afford and don’t forget to include incidentals like host/hostess gifts and taxis. Jump online to check prices and consider setting aside extra funds to cushion for unexpected invitations and expenses. If you’re hosting a party this year, understanding how much you have to spend and the true cost of things will help you decide whether to throw a cookie exchange, intimate dinner party or a big soiree.
• Look for creative ways to cut costs – If the party is at your house, consider a potluck dinner and look to your garden for natural, evergreen decorations like holly and pinecones. If you’re attending a party and searching for a gift to bring the host, consider using your credit cards rewards points to find a suitable present instead of spending cash.
• Start stashing cash now – Even if you don’t have a lot of money to save, start small, be diligent and it will add up. If you haven’t done so already, consider setting up an automatic transfer of a portion of your pay cheque into a savings account.