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What to Include in your Holiday Budget 

With the holidays just around the corner, many Canadians will soon begin opening their wallets – and many plan to spend more than last year.

According to the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) 2021 Holiday Shopping Survey, nearly 3 in 10 Canadians said that they will be spending more in 2021 than they did in 2020. Negative impacts of the pandemic have dropped significantly according to Canadian consumers – more so for those in Quebec and Atlantic Canada – resulting in holiday spending returning to levels seen in pre-pandemic years.

However, the survey also revealed that Canadians tend to spend more than planned on their holiday expenses. In 2019, Canadians planned to spend $792 for their holiday shopping but reported spending $817. In 2020, planned spending was $693 with an actual reported spend of $739. In 2021, it will likely be more of the same.

“When we think about the holidays and how we spend our money, we typically think presents,” says John Eisner, President of SolveYourDebts.com. “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.”

To ensure you don’t overspend this holiday season, SolveYourDebts.com has put together a checklist of all the things you might need to account for in your holiday budget, and how you can save money on each of them.

GiftsThis one is obvious – gifts will likely eat up the bulk of your holiday budget. Every year the list seems to keep getting longer and longer, but do you really have to buy for all of those people? In order to save money over the holidays, opt for home-made gifts that are not only more meaningful, but are also free or very inexpensive.

Parties and GatheringsThe holidays seem to have an endless number of parties – whether it be for work, with friends or with family. Ensure that your budget includes the cost of attending said holiday parties. This might include the cost of a Secret Santa gift, cards, food, a new outfit and transportation home after the festivities. While it can be traditional to give a gift to the host of a party, consider baking, preserves or homemade ornaments for these thoughtful gifts.

Holiday CardsWe may be living in a digital age, but people still love to send out a traditional holiday card by mail. Not only can this add up in the form of postage, it also can take a lot of time to write out personalized cards. Try sending out e-cards to your list this year. There are many free websites that allow you to create cute, personalized cards for everyone on your list.  

DecorationsChristmas lights, indoor décor and of course the coveted Christmas Tree – all of these holiday decorations can add up. While you may not want to be a Scrooge and not decorate at all, you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate. Many dollar stores have extensive decorations that are inexpensive. Try and use the same decorations over from previous years, and if you’re really a planner, buy next year’s decorations on Boxing Day when they’re all on sale!

FoodWhether it’s for the big dinner or for entertaining friends, extra groceries will have to be factored into your budget. Take stock of supplies you already have, check the flyers for deals and go shopping with a list. Without a list, you will ultimately end up buying things you didn’t account for, so always prepare a grocery list.

CharityAt this time of year, the options for donations are endless. Decide on what best suits your intention and include it in your budget. Don’t feel guilted into donating every time you visit the store or are asked. Know that you’re contributing in your own way to the charities that matter most to you. If you can’t afford a financial donation this year, consider donating extra food from your pantry to a food bank, or volunteering at a local shelter. Not all charitable support needs to come in the form of money.

Be UnconventionalBy being creative, you can find ways to save big on the holidays. Go out to dinner with friends instead of exchanging gifts, draw names for extended family, give family gifts instead of individual, or do a good deed as a gift.

Ultimately, the best way to prepare for the holidays is to set a realistic budget, plan for extra expenses, and try not to get caught up in the hype. This is a time to enjoy with loves ones. By having a proper plan, you’ll ensure that you enjoy the moment and not worry about how you will pay for it all come January.

For more financial tips and advice, visit www.SolveYourDebts.com.

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