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With the holidays around the corner, financially strapped Canadian families are wondering how to make it through without breaking the bank. With over half of Canadians living paycheque to paycheque and average consumer debt levels over $21,000, the 2016 holiday season may be particularly burdensome on Canadian households.
According to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA), Canada’s Holiday Spending Monitor (released December 2015), only 29 per cent of Canadians polled planned to put aside savings for the 2016 holiday season. This leaves the majority of Canadians financially unprepared for the holidays and vulnerable to spending on credit.
With seasonal pressure to spend money on gifts, décor, party clothes, activities, food and drink, how can families ease the financial burden of the holiday season? Here are five tips to enjoy the spirit of the holidays without breaking the bank:
Entertaining can be expensive when you bear the burden of providing all of the food and drink. The reality is most guests want and expect to bring something to your home when you are hosting a meal or party. Ask each of your guests to bring something that will be consumed as part of your event. This will not only reduce the financial burden and time required to shop and prepare food, it will also increase your guests’ engagement – and allow them to be acknowledged for their part - in your event.
There are countless ways to spend little to no money on holiday decorations. From edible centrepieces and tree decorations to homemade gift wrap and stockings to dogwood, cedar and fir clippings – the possibilities are endless. Put your personal touch on the holidays this season – and save your money - by making your own holiday decorations.
It may be tempting to buy a new dress or outfit for a holiday party, but is the cost worth it for one night of fun? Consider purchasing an inexpensive accessory – such as a scarf or costume jewellery – to pair with an existing outfit. Better yet, take the hour or two that you might spend shopping in a store and spend it in your own closet, taking stock of what you already have and creating new combinations of outfits to wear during the holiday season.
There is no truer statement than the old adage: “It’s the thought that counts”. Consider any low- or no-cost gifts that you can give those you love, such as homemade goodies or crafts, gifts of service (i.e., offering a night of babysitting to a friend) and gifts of time. For larger families, consider picking names rather than buying for everyone. An increasingly popular alternative to giving material gifts is donating money or time to a charity on behalf of yourself or your family.
Most communities and religious organizations offer free or low-cost activities during the holidays such as trains or sleigh-rides, holiday mazes, festivals of lights, festivals of trees, parades and other festive events. Take in these community offerings and feel the spirit of the holidays.
The pressure to spend money is at an all-time high during the holidays, adding to the financial pressure already felt by Canadians during the past year. This holiday season, give yourself a gift and make a commitment to avoid overspending and putting purchases on credit that you cannot afford.
Lana Gilbertson is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in our Vancouver location. To learn more about how MNP Debt can help, contact our
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