Money & Career

5 easy ways to stick to your holiday budget

Getty Images Image by: Getty Images Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

5 easy ways to stick to your holiday budget

Did your household budget get burned this summer? You're in good (if overspent) company. A recent survey from Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada found that 39 percent of respondents spent more than they had planned during our sunniest season. And for 29 percent of them, they were off their own financial targets by $1,000 or more.

What happened?

"If you look at the top spending areas—yard work, transportation, home renos and dining out—those activities tend to increase in summer months," says Cairine Wilson, CPA Canada vice-president, corporate citizenship. Plus, she says, travel tends to increase that time of year. "If you were visiting the U.S., you'd be hit with the higher exchange rate," she says, "and may have spent more than you planned."

And as the holidays loom, many of us who overused credit cards may be starting to stress about how our finances can handle the annual onslaught of shopping and entertaining. "Stay calm," advises Wilson. "It's never too late to start." Here's what she suggests.

- If you don't already have one, set a budget. "Do this now rather than closer to Christmas," she says. If you have one, review it, see where you're overspending and see what you can adjust.

- Monitor your spending. Spend some quality time going through your bank account transactions every week or two. "It's a great way to make sure you're staying on track," says Wilson.

- Pay in cash. "It's so easy to get carried away when you're using credit," reminds Wilson.

- Carry around larger bills. You'll likely spend less, says Wilson, simply because most of us don't want to break those up.

- Invest in your financial education. November is financial literacy month, says Wilson, and organizations like CPA Canada offer free sessions on money management in communities across the country. Contact for details.

For more money-saving tips, check out these best ways to track spending and manage your budget.


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Money & Career

5 easy ways to stick to your holiday budget