It’s officially December, which means the holidays are just a few short weeks away. If you’re a planner, perhaps you’ve already done your shopping. But if you’re like most Canadians, you’ve still got a ways to go.
According to a 2019 report, only 18 per cent of consumers say they finish their shopping prior to December, which means that 82 per cent of Canadians are still in full shopping mode. But it’s not just gift-buying that can eat up December’s budget.
“When we think about the holidays and how we spend our money, we typically think presents,” says John Eisner, President of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada. “People often forget that there are a lot more expenses to the holidays than just gifts, such as decorations for the home, dinners with friends and family, and charitable donations. These purchases can quickly add up to a daunting January credit card bill.”
While December is an expensive time of year, there are some things you can do to keep your spending in check. Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada, a debt counselling organization with seven locations across the Atlantic provinces, shares their tips on how to reduce your holiday spending this year.
- Suggest a Secret Santa. If you have a large extended family, consider doing a Secret Santa where you draw names and each person only buys for one other person instead of everyone. This can significantly cut back on expenses.
- Give the gift of your time. Instead of buying something people don’t necessarily need, offer gifts of your time and service, such as breakfast in bed, a free car wash or help shoveling the driveway. Get creative by creating a whole book of coupons for your services.
- Host a potluck. Hosting a dinner party can add up tremendously after buying all the food and drink. Opt for a potluck lunch or dinner where everyone has to bring one dish each so that you’re not stuck footing the bill.
- Reduce other monthly costs. December is and expensive month, and most people don’t have extra cash laying around unless they’ve been saving all year for the holidays. Try and reduce costs in other categories this month, such as skipping your morning latte, eating out less or pausing your Netflix and Spotify subscriptions.
- Gift fewer gifts. If you’re feeling the pinch at Christmas, you’re most likely not the only one. Have a frank discussion with your friends and family about gift-buying and ask if they’re open to reducing the spend or even better, opting out of gift-giving altogether. You’d be surprised how many people will welcome ditching the gift-giving to instead focus on the important part of the holidays – family and togetherness.
- Shop online. Shopping online can be dangerous if you don’t keep yourself in check, but it can also save you money. Combining all of your purchases from one online store can reduce shipping costs, and you’ll save time and gas by not having to head to the busy malls. Best of all, avoiding the malls means avoiding impulse buys and sale signs shoved in your face.
- Get a side hustle. December is the perfect time to start that side hustle, whether it’s tutoring, shoveling driveways or housesitting. Making a bit of extra cash this month can help you pay for the added expenses that the holidays bring.
- Sell your stuff. Typically, we save our purging for the Spring, but the holidays are the perfect time to get rid of some old stuff. Not only does it make room for new gifts you may receive, but it can help you make extra cash. Use platforms like eBay or Varage Sale to sling old clothing, books or gifts you’ve never taken the tag off of.
- Make your own gifts. Handmade gifts aren’t just for children – you can save a lot of money by making your own gifts. Whether it’s baking cookies, making a homemade candle or putting together a gift basket, these types of gifts are usually the most memorable. Check out our ideas for homemade gifts.
- Get creative with your gift wrap. Buying tubes of brand-new wrapping paper and every sized giftbag under the sun can add up quickly. Use newspaper instead of wrapping paper for a unique look, or head to the dollar store to buy your gift wrap.
For more tips and money-saving advice, visit www.solveyourdebts.com.