The most wonderful time of the year doesn’t need to turn into the most stressful time of the year. Here’s how to spend wisely without sacrificing any holiday spirit.
With the holiday season finally upon us, it can be hard not to get caught up in all the merriment and festivities. From gifts to year-end parties, little indulgences now can amount to financial regret later without proper planning.
Six in 10 Canadians planning to spend over the holiday season don’t have a budget or are likely to overspend, according to Manulife Bank’s 2018 debt survey*. Some things are inevitable this time of year, but debt shouldn’t be one of them. Here are ways to plan for the holidays while keeping your budget on track.
Get creative with gifts
Feeling pressured to buy gifts for loved ones? You’re not alone. About eight in 10 Canadians who plan to do so this holiday season believe the holidays are too focused on spending money. Rather than splurging on material items this year that may become outdated or forgotten, consider opting for an experiential gift instead.
Experiences can often be more fulfilling than traditional gifts because they help form fond memories. These hands-on gifts include everything from offering to help a loved one with a project to signing the both of you up for a cooking class.
Four in 10 Canadians experience a large amount of stress or anxiety before the holidays. To help alleviate some of these negative feelings, set budget tiers for family, friends and coworkers. You could also consider doing a Secret Santa-style gift exchange where each participant only shops for one person. This should give you a more realistic idea of your budget and encourage you to spend within your means.
Show off your hosting skills
Holiday parties are often set in a bar or restaurant, and those food and drink costs can add up. For a budget-friendly alternative, consider hosting a party. Making it a potluck and BYOB event can cut down costs even more. Since your guests are likely in the same boat as you when it comes to holiday expenses, they may be relieved about the change in venue.
Can’t decide what to wear? Take your holiday savings a step further by repurposing existing clothes instead of splurging on a new party outfit. Remember that cocktail dress that’s been gathering dust in your closet after only one use? Pair that with some statement jewelry and a pair of festive tights, and you’ll end up with a stylish look for a fraction of the cost.
As the days get shorter and colder, a sunny getaway probably sounds appealing. But prices for flights and accommodations tend to skyrocket during the holiday season. If you need a break from your day-to-day routine, look into a staycation to make your dollar go further.
Playing tourist in your town can be the perfect excuse to check out new restaurants, shops or museum and art exhibits you’ve been itching to see. Harness your local knowledge and pamper yourself at some tried-and-true spots. Plus, there’s always a slew of events that pop up during the holidays. Check out a tree-lighting ceremony, stroll under twinkly lights at a Christmas market or stake out a spot at a seasonal parade.
To truly enjoy the season of giving while keeping your budget on track, it’s important to be honest and proactive about your holiday spending. One in 10 indebted Canadians admit that they’ve hidden the cost of a purchase from someone they know, according to the Manulife debt survey. Talk to your family and friends about gift expectations and consider meeting with an independent advisor who can help you set long-term financial goals into the New Year. By making a list and checking it twice, you can enjoy all that the season has to offer without dreading the bill at the end.
*The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 2,003 Canadians in all provinces between ages 20 and 69 with household income of more than $40,000. The survey was conducted online by Ipsos between August 31 and September 5, 2018. National results were weighted by gender, age, region and education.