Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Canadians are keeping holiday spending in check, some ideas on how to do this

Two years ago, we spent on average $1,810 on the holiday, this year the average Canadian will spend about $1,517 over Christmas, the lowest holiday spend in three years, according to a separate BMO study. If you want to avoid overspending, try the following:

  1. Before you go out to buy, ribbons, bows, tree lights, etc, do an inventory—to make the job easier, if you have not done so already, when you pack up keep all the holiday items together.
  2. Do not bring your kids shopping with you; studies suggest they’ll help you spend 29% more than your budget.
  3. Do not shop with your partner; you’re likely to spend 19% more.
  4. Do not use a cart; people who carry their stuff spend 8% less.
  5. Pay cash and carry $100 bills; you’re less likely to break them for smaller purchase
  6. One way to avoid overspending is not to make too many spontaneous purchases.
  7. We have a large family getting together at Christmas so we only give to the children under 12
  8. Give to a charity or the food bank, or give of yourself may be better than an expensive present, which may be re gifted.
  9. Whether you prefer to shop in person or online, it’s important to know your budget limits and to stick to them.
  10. Buying online, leave the site or walk away from the site after you have put the items in the basket, wait at least 24 hours or longer to close the deal—some stores may offer you an incentive to complete your purchase.
  11. Allow time and planning and comparison shop
  12. Keep your budget in mind and shop carefully to get the best selection and price.
  13. Give the gift you make yourself, to people who would appreciate the thoughtful gesture.
Planning to use your credit cards for some of the gifts this year? If you have balances, now's the time to plan head and wipe them out. Especially if those balances are from last year's holiday. You should never want to get to next Christmas without paying off last Christmas.

  1. Limit the number of cards you carry on shopping trips. Bring only those that you'll actually use.
  2. Keep an eye on your card. Make sure you get it back promptly after each use.
  3. Conceal your card while waiting to pay for purchases. Someone in line behind you might try to memorize or copy your account number.
  4. When the cashier returns it to you, do not absent-mindedly stick your card in a coat pocket or someplace else where it can easily fall out.
  5. Treat receipts carefully. Check them to see if your account number is hidden (with Xs) except for the last four digits. If the full number is visible on a receipt, do not leave it lying around.
  6. When your billing statements arrive, compare them with holiday receipts to help spot any unauthorized charges.
  7. Be especially selective when shopping online. Shop with companies you know and stick to secure Web sites. Look for a locked padlock, an unbroken key or a lock icon (displayed at the bottom or on the status bar of the screen) to determine if a Web site uses security software.
  8. Don't give out your account number unless you initiate the transaction. Watch out for any phone, Internet or mail solicitations that ask you for this information.
  9. Fill in blanks on receipts. When dining out, draw a line through any blank spaces on the receipt (i.e. tip/gratuity space if you leave a cash tip) and total the amounts before signing.
  10. Pick off-peak times to actually do your shopping. Most kids (or is it just the ones on the “nice” list?) are in school until close to Christmas, so hitting the stores during the day might save you some time and help you avoid impulse shopping. Eat before you go and take a bottle of water along. Every little bit of savings will help keep your budget from becoming naughty!
  11. Each month after you pay your debts that have fixed monthly payments (mortgages, vehicle and term loans), only make the minimum payments required on your credit cards with the lowest interest rates, but maximize your payments on the credit cards with the highest interest rates.
  12. Once a credit card is paid off, use this extra money to pay down your credit card with next highest interest rate. This will save you money and help you pay down your debt faster.  Consider paying off credit cards with small balances first. Psychologically it shows that you are making progress. Once paid, cut up and cancel the credit cards. Most people only require one major credit card and perhaps one retail credit card with savings incentives during special sales events.

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