This has been an exceptional year for so many reasons and now the holiday season is upon us. With all of the stresses and uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic let’s all hope we can focus on the joy and love of the Christmas season. Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie would like to give some advice on how to have a wonderful Christmas without adding any additional financial stress to your life. Soon we’ll be indulging in our favourite seasonal rituals; decking the halls, baking, singing carols, corresponding with our loved ones and the most popular holiday activity of them all….buying gifts!
Tips to prevent overspending during the gift-giving season:
Make a List. Everyone should develop a holiday gift-giving list. To do so, start by writing down all the people you plan on buying for this year. Next, make an estimate of what you will spend on each person (including taxes) Now add up the total and you see how much it will cost you. If it’s more than you can afford, look for areas to trim expenses.
Check your list twice. If your list is too big you may have to reduce the number of people on your list this year. A good way of doing that is to suggest that family members or friends that you exchange names this year and do a Secret Santa exchange rather than buying for everyone.
Trim those expenses. Consider lowering the amount you were going to spend on each person. Most times what you spend on a gift is more important to yourself than the person receiving the gift. Keep in mind that some of the most thoughtful gifts cost next to nothing. It really is the thought that counts. Some people like to follow a “make it or bake it” rule for gift giving. Give gifts of time, or favours to others. These can be highly appreciated by others.
Discuss Expectations. If you have kids (young or grown), discuss what’s happening in the world and how moderation and charity can be applied. Ask them for suggestions on how this holiday season can be made more meaningful and affordable for the family.
Shop smarter not harder. Never shop in a rush or under pressure because that can lead to overspending. With extra time, you can comparison shop and search for the best possible deal. Before you buy, take a “time-out” and ask yourself if the gift is appropriate for the recipient and within your spending limit.
Use credit cautiously. Try to pay cash for your purchases and not to finance your Christmas gifts. If you have to borrow, limit your credit purchases to one or two cards. A good rule of thumb is not to charge more than you can afford to repay within three months. Use the lowest interest rate cards. Keep track of your credit purchases by writing them down and clipping your receipts together. Keep a running total of your credit purchase totals so you know how much you have charged. You don’t want to have a shock when you start opening your credit card statements in January.
Avoid temptation. Sometimes we can’t resist the “one extra little gift”. But these small items often break our budget. Just staying away from the stores and online shopping can help keep you from making unnecessary purchases. Plan non-shopping related outings instead.
Hold on to those Receipts. Sometimes items don’t fit, break, or just don’t suit the person you’re buying it for. By keeping the receipt available you can save yourself time, stress and money.
Reach out creatively. Most of us won’t be travelling or attending many parties this year. To reach out to the ones you love, consider Skyping, or sending a video or even a good old fashion letter, this can mean a lot and costs so little.
To say the pandemic has had an impact on all of us is an understatement. As we look for ways to brighten our days during this holiday season we ask you to remember this;
It’s easy to get caught up in the buying frenzy, but when we look back on our lives most of us don’t recall the wrappings and gifts of past Christmases’ it is the special moments shared with our loved ones that linger in our minds for years to come.
It is important to remember that love and one’s time cost nothing but can be priceless.
The spirit of peace and hope has remained triumphant for centuries and will renew itself again this holiday season.
We wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year on behalf of Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie