Celebrate the Holidays without Going Broke

Posted on: November 26, 2012

At our recent MONEY MONDAYS event, we discussed the challenges of getting through the holidays without financial stress.

Only 29% of Canadians have a set budget for holiday spending according to a recent Bank of Montreal holiday spending survey. On average survey respondents plans to spend $674 on gifts and $1,610 when you include holiday travel, entertainment, and other expenses with many Canadians spending with no plan for paying off their holiday bills.

Here are 4 tips to help you avoid the post-holiday hangover:

1. Don’t deck the halls with debt

Set a realistic spending goal and stick with it. Set aside money every month leading up to this high-spending season. If you’re starting from scratch, don’t just throw everything on a credit card and hope for the best. Spend according to what you can afford, not what you think will impress your kids or others.

2. Get creative

Money doesn’t grow on Christmas trees so stop kidding yourself. Put thought and time into gifts. Make a photo book for grandma; give iPhone or iPad apps you know your favourite geek will love; offer services, like babysitting or a special dinner you cook.

3. Talk

Money can be that elephant in the room, not just in marriages and partnerships but among family members. Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject of holiday spending, be honest and don’t pretend. Let your family know you are trying not to spend money you don’t have. Suggest a gift exchange – everyone draws one name instead of trying to buy for all.

4. The holidays are for giving.

Avoid the temptation of taking advantage of holiday sales for yourself. It’s better to “give than receive” at this time of year!

Join the Conversation:

Share your ideas of how to enjoy the holidays without financial stress.



Category(s): Budgeting and Cash Flow, Relationship to money
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5 Responses to Celebrate the Holidays without Going Broke

  1. Karen Collacutt says:

    We had a great conversation last night at Money Mondays in Barrie, Ontario. All of our attendees have teenagers and we talked about great ways to give gifts they will like without breaking the bank. Some of our ideas: a “family box” of older movies (bought used or off of the sales racks) and popcorn, candy; grocery gift cards for kids away at school; excellent regifts (an older lazy-boy, a stack of great books); giving family heirlooms. Shopping online can allow you to avoid the crowds and stay away from self-shopping and getting off your list. Great topic!

  2. Canadianbudgetbinder says:

    Great Tips!
    What we do each month is save money in a separate bank account for Christmas time which helps take the pressure off during the holiday season. Budgeting the money has helped us to control our spending and we know exactly what we have and don’t have. There will be no stressing over debt and bills in the New Year in the CBB family. Cheers Mr.CBB

  3. Love the idea of a family gift! I often do a charitable donation for my parents, or the family that has everything. World Vision (www.worldvision.org) and Kiva (www.kvia.com) are two great, fun examples. No shipping, no taxes, not even the cost of a card as its usually all included!
    Gift certificates are also an easy way to avoid the crowds and stick to budget. They are quick and easy to buy and taxes are included!

  4. A few suggestions were brought up to make Christmas more affordable that were new to me. Using your Airmiles points for gift cards at the LCBO can save a lot of $$$ out of your Christmas entertaining budget. Or using them for drug store and movie gift cards can be a great gift for teenagers on your list. Regifting was a big one as long as you remembered who gave it to you. That could be an embarrassing mistake!

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