During the month of December, Canadians spend more money on goods and services than at any other time of the year. Statistics Canada reports that when it comes to items like toys, games and electronics, we spend almost twice as much as we normally would. Last year, the average Canadian spent approximately $1,551 on holiday shopping, and the lion’s share went towards travel and gifts.
There are so many fun things to do at this time of year (and lots of temptation). Making a budget might seem daunting – and not-so-much fun. However, if you target your spending, you can actually save.
SAVE on decorations
A savvy shopper picks up holiday decorations that go on sale at the end of last season in preparation for the next season. Retailers start slashing prices on Boxing Day, and prices generally go down well into the New Year. If you weren’t thinking that far ahead, not to worry. Start by searching second-hand thrift stores, and it’s amazing what you can find at Dollarama. Also, check online sites. I like to scroll the buy and sell sites on Facebook to see what others are selling.
SAVE on friends’ gifts
The holidays should be all about the children. With your adult friends, consider a Secret Santa exchange – maybe one at work, with family and different groups of friends. This eliminates the added stress of buying for an extended social circle or adult family members. Set a spending cap for all to follow. If your family can’t get together over the holidays, draw names and use free sites like elfster.com.
SPLURGE on baking items
Baked good are often a timehonoured ingredient of the holidays, and the preparation of said sweets an event to be shared. If you’re doing your own baking, you’re already saving money. Splurge on the best, so that your baking stands out. You can save by buying unique, secondhand tins to gift your cookies in.
SPLURGE on dinner
For many people, the holiday season is all about the food. There’s at least one dinner where everyone gets together. Splurge on this meal. Celebrate with that expensive wine you’ve always wanted to try. If preparation time is a concern, pre-order a fully-cooked meal that comes with all the trimmings. Breaking bread with family and friends is what the holidays are all about.
SAVE on travel
Holiday travel is notoriously expensive as airlines, train and bus companies inflate fares when the demand is high. If possible, take an extra day and drive to your destination. If you have to take other modes of transportation, try to arrange to leave a few days earlier to save on lower fares. By doing so, you have more family time, and jingle jangle in your pocket.
The monetary amount that the average Canadian spends over the holidays may vary depending upon the survey. However, there’s no doubt that it’s the most expensive time of year, and it adds financial strain to those who are already dealing with high debt levels. Assess your comfort level when it comes to splurging and saving, and have a wonderful holiday season.
As finance editor for HOMES Publishing Group, Rubina Ahmed-Haq also shares her expertise in our sister publication Condo Life. In addition, she is a regular contributor on CBC Radio, blogger at RateSupermarket.ca, and has her own website alwayssavemoney.ca.