Christmas is a very exciting time of year for many Canadians. While it may embody many different things to different individuals, for many, it represents an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones, while spreading happiness, joy and peace.
One way that many choose to spread these sentiments is to exchange gifts under the tree. In turn, this then means that money will be spent . . . and sometimes a lot of it.
Now, if you already have debt – or bad credit, then the idea of spending a lot of money this holiday season may be more stressful than joy-filled. If this is the case, then you will want to be prepared as you shop for gifts this Christmas, also looking for ways you can save.
After all, the last thing you want is to find come January 2017, your debt level has significantly grown over the course of the holiday season. Instead, this Christmas take some extra time to save money on your holiday shopping. Here are 3 steps to minimizing your spending this Christmas.
1) Devise a Holiday Budget
While you may already have a budget, perhaps your budget does not account for the increase spending you may experience around Christmas time. Therefore, it will be very important to make room for the amount you plan to spend on Christmas-related expenses in your current budget. At this point in time you can estimate how much you will need to spend – and a good amount to compare it to can be what you spent during the previous Christmas season.
In addition to estimating how much you need to spend, you will need to consider how much you can realistically spend too. Here, you want to look closely at your finances and determine how much you can spend without putting yourself into too much of a financial hardship. While some debt is common, you definitely do not want to plan to spend so much that you can’t maintain your other financial responsibilities, such as your monthly loans and bill payments.
Once you have identified how much you think you can spend, if time allows you can also start saving or setting aside some money for these Christmas expenses or decide how much credit you can afford to use and pay off – again without going into further debt.
2) Create a Shopping List (& then cut it down)
At this point, your second step can be to create a Christmas list that will include all of the gifts and/or individuals you need to buy for, as well as other expenses such as food & beverage costs, decorations, and even travel costs.
This list is an important piece of the puzzle as it can help you align your Christmas shopping needs with the amount you have budgeted for. Once you have compiled your list, you can then take things a step further and try and cut back on what/how you are buying.
Perhaps, you can identify where you can purchase items for less – or you will even want to remove items that you can classify at unnecessary. While we may want to buy gifts for everyone in our lives, the reality is that this is extremely expensive and can just prove to be too much for your finances.
Finally, this list can help you to avoid overspending. Sometimes going into a store without knowing what you are buying can mean you are be more prone to engaging in impulse buying and this can also quickly derail your budget.
So overall, it is important to be prepared by getting your list ready and also by not forgetting to account for other expenses such as food, decorations, and of course any travel costs you may have over the holidays.
3) Be a Savvy Shopper
Now in addition to having a Christmas shopping list prepared, there are also other valuable tasks you can implement that can help you save some money while out at the stores.
With your shopping list as your guide, you then want to decide how and where you will shop. For example, watching for sales and discounts can be a very beneficial method of minimizing your spending and sticking to the budget. You also want to remember to compare prices across a range of stores, as you may be able to save a fair bit of money on a similar item at a different store.
Moreover, you may also want to consider purchasing items online instead of in a store. While not all online stores offer better deals than their store front counterparts, sometimes they do and it can be rather significant. Indigo-Chapters orders for example, are typically less expensive if you purchase them online and you can have them shipped for free to the store – also negating any additional shopping costs, which we all know can also add up.
In the end, not only can coming prepared for shopping help lessen the stress that is often associated with the hectic, crowd-filled malls and retail locations – there are also many ways you can reduce the amount you are spending overall.
If you are at all worried about falling into debt this holiday, instead, try to minimize your spending. Alternatively, by following along with these 3 steps, you can aim to maximize the enjoyment you get to share with others this Christmas and steer clear of anything resembling bad credit.