As the holidays approach, here are a few solid tips for handling some of the season’s major expenses.
For most Canadians, Christmas spending puts a big dent in their budgets. Here are a few tips on how to hang onto the holiday spirit while managing your holiday budget.
Review your expenses and your income to calculate how much you can spend on holiday shopping. If you stick to your budget, you can avoid paying high interest to credit card companies for outstanding balances.
Make a list of people to whom you will be giving gifts and decide on one maximum amount. Make sure that the total amount fits with your Christmas budget.
Remember that, aside from gifts, there are other expenses to consider during the holiday season, such as food, transportation, clothing and decorations. Be realistic when planning for each of these expenses.
Start as soon as possible, so you can take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, as well as other pre-Christmas sales.
By starting early, you will be to find a gift that’s perfect in more ways than just its price. It is one of our tips on how to find the right Christmas gifts.
This strategy also applies to food: if you plan menus in advance, you can take advantage of sales or discounts on non-perishable (or freezable) ingredients for parties.
There are discount sites such as the Canadian version of RetailMeNot, where you can get codes for the virtual checkouts at numerous online retailers.
Retailers offer discounts or free shipping to their online communities or newsletter subscribers. Follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts or subscribe to their newsletters to keep updated on great bargains.
Before you head out to the mall, visit the retailers’ web sites to compare prices of items you want to buy. Some sites, like Shopbot, are dedicated to price comparison.
Buyer reviews of products can also help you make a better choice, for example, if you want to find a less expensive model that is popular with users.
Shopping at the mall means using gasoline and possibly having to stop for a meal. And there may be some unexpected purchases as well.
You can avoid these costs by shopping online. But remember to check shipping prices to make sure you get the best deal possible.
It’s also best to stick with Canadian sites to avoid international delivery costs and customs clearance fees.
When you shop for others, it’s tempting to want to spoil yourself as well. But maybe it’s best to let others have the chance to spoil you instead! Or, write down what you want if you still feel that urge a few months down the road.
Personalized and made with love and care, homemade gifts never fail to touch the heart. And you don't have to be Martha Stewart! Use your phone’s photo app to create and print picture books or calendars…anyone can do it!
Cookies, snacks and other gourmet gifts are always appreciated. The web is chock-full of recipes: two- ingredients fudge, preserves and jams, all types of cookies, there is something for cooks at every level.
Are you hosting the extended family? If anyone offers to bring something, take them up on it! Suggest one part of the meal: sparkling wine for an aperitif, entrée, salad or dessert. It’s a great way to show off someone’s culinary skills or passion for wine, while limiting your own spending.
An afternoon decorating cookies, an outdoor bonfire and a hot chocolate, a night walk to admire the neighbourhood Christmas lights….Instead of burying children under gifts they’ll probably forget about, cut down on gifts and plan special, but low-cost activities. You can repeat these traditions every year and create special memories that last forever
Keep gifts, ribbons and bags that can be used next year. Take advantage of Boxing Day sales for bargains on decorations, greeting cards and wrapping paper.
Finally, based on the amount you spent this year on your Christmas budget, start saving a small amount every month for the next holiday shopping season. It's never too early to think about Christmas!
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