This year has hit all Canadians hard – whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or financially. With the holidays around the corner, many families are looking forward to celebrating with loved ones and putting the year behind them.
But despite the fact that Canadians may want to celebrate Christmas like they usually do, it’s important to remember that financial situations may have changed, and that the repercussions of Covid-19 are not fully behind us.
“While many Canadians may feel like the worst of Covid-19 is over, we haven’t really seen the true ramifications yet,” says John Eisner, President & CEO of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada. “Come tax time, everyone that collected the CERB and/or EI will owe money. Some people may find that they weren’t even eligible for the benefit in the first place, and have to pay all of it back. For those that haven’t put money aside, the real impact will be seen come tax time.”
For this reason, Eisner, is advising people to have a ‘credit-free Christmas’ this year. What this means is that it’s more important to focus on who’s around your tree rather than what’s underneath it.
“Sure, it’s been a difficult year and perhaps parents are itching to get their children that new Xbox in order to cure their boredom, but this type of spending will only have negative effects,” Eisner continues. “We’re starting to see a rise in insolvencies again. While these numbers dropped significantly throughout the year due to government support, we’re now starting to see them spike, and it’s only going to get worse in the new year.”
To ensure your Christmas is a credit-free one, Eisner offers five ways to celebrate the holidays with little to no money.
- Give homemade gifts: There’s nothing more personal than a homemade gift. Not only will your friends and family appreciate the time and creativity you put into making it, but it’s also a great way to save money over the holidays and stay within your gift-giving budget.
- 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.
- 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.
- Skip the parties. This year everyone has a valid excuse to stay home and avoid crowded parties. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it will save you money on buying gifts, a new outfit, food and transportation.
- Send out e-cards. It may be the new millennium, 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.