This season, follow these tips to avoid the January (and beyond!) blues.
For many people, the temptation to overspend during the holiday season is hard to resist. Whether it’s longstanding traditions with family and friends, or the strong pull from constant advertising, the holidays seem to inspire spending that can spiral out of control.
Here are five tips to help you spend reasonably so you don’t have regrets – or large amounts of long-term debt – in the new year:
Create a spending strategy. You might think it kills the spirit of the season, but planning a budget and carefully considering who receives gifts and how much you’ll spend on them is a smart way to manage your expenses. Using debit or cash when possible also helps avoid the shock of huge credit card bills.
Secret Santa, One and Done, etc. Whatever you call it, many people who are watching their spending or simply don’t like mass consumerism will agree with others in their circle to buy gifts only for one person. You can still have fun doing this and you won’t be stuck with a bunch of gifts that aren’t necessarily what you need or want.
Reconsider gifts for coworkers. Some workplaces have a gift exchange, be it informal (e.g., buy a few things for close colleagues) or formal (like the Secret Santa concept above). People may do this out of obligation or to avoid looking like a “Scrooge” if they don’t participate. Casually ask around to gauge interest in gifting, and if many people prefer to opt out, then everyone can help their budget this season. Maybe you can get together for a nice lunch, instead.
Challenges with international purchases. Retailers bombard you with tempting sales, especially around the holidays. Sometimes the deals are great, but beware of buying from outlets outside of Canada. Shipping fees can be high and you may also pay duty on your purchase. With the relatively low value of the Canadian dollar, currency exchange is another issue. Suddenly, that great deal becomes expensive, so be careful when buying from foreign sources.
And a little something for yourself. When shopping for family and friends, chances are you’ve spotted something that you’d like as well. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while, but don’t overindulge and put your disciplined budget in jeopardy. Whether you’re buying for yourself or others, the bills keep coming just the same.
Talk to your financial advisor about effective ways to keep your holiday budget under control, so you can continue investing in your financial future.
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