Nearly Forty Per Cent Of Atlantic Canadians Anticipate Feelings Of Anxiety And Regret Over Holiday Spending Bills

2018-12-21   minute read

Tina Powell

MNP Consumer Debt Index

Atlantic Canadians admit to bad financial habits including:

  • Being lured in by deals or offers by companies on days such as Black Friday, Boxing Day, etc. (13%)
  • Paying only the minimum balance on a credit card (24%) or line of credit (17%)
  • Borrowing money they can’t afford to pay back quickly (15%)
  • Making a major purchase on credit without paying it off right away (11%)
  • Buying something on credit that requires no payments for a while (7%)
Collection of red and white gift boxes

HALIFAX, NS –As the shopping rush reaches peak intensity before the holidays, a local debt expert is warning Atlantic Canadians to avoid taking on more debt or payday loans, as they try to cope with the pressures of last minute gifts and Christmas grocery shopping.

“Right before the holidays is when we really see the pressure start to mount. People are feeling enticed to spend more, borrowing money from payday lenders or overusing their credit cards to cover purchases. The problem is, these forms of credit have extremely high interest rates, and this can end up trapping people in a cycle of debt that will be impossible to break free of,” says Tina Powell, a Licenced Insolvency Trustee at MNP Ltd.

A new poll conducted by MNP on behalf of Ipsos highlights some bad financial habits that are exacerbated by the holiday shopping season. Just over one in ten (13%) admit to being lured in by sales on ‘deal’ days like Black Friday or Boxing Day. Seven per cent said they have bought something on credit that requires no payments for a while.

“The temptation is everywhere; we’re being bombarded by all kinds of sales and ‘buy now, pay later’ offers during the holidays. While that small purchase or Boxing Day deal might seem like a bargain, if you end up carrying it on credit, it may not be such a great deal in the end,” says Powell.

Two in ten Atlantic Canadians (24%) admit to only paying the minimum balance on their credit card or line of credit (17%). One in ten (11%) say they have made a major purchase on credit without paying it off right away, while fifteen per cent say they borrowed money they can’t afford to pay back quickly. Just four per cent admit they have used their home-equity line of credit to buy things they want but don’t need.

“If you do end up borrowing or using credit cards to cover your purchases, it’s important to fully understand the true cost of that debt you’re accumulating. Take the sticker price of the item, and add the potential interest accrued. Chances are, that ‘deal’ will become far less tempting after you’ve done that calculation,” says Powell.

Come January, Atlantic Canadians anticipate feeling the effects of a credit hangover. Last year, nearly four in ten (38%) felt anxiety over the arrival of holiday-spending bills, and regret over how much they spent (37%). However, the same number (37%) said they made it their New Year’s resolution to get their finances back on track.

“Resolve to make a plan to tackle your debt repayment obligations now. You’ll be glad you did once the New Year rolls around and holiday bills begin to arrive. Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if your holiday and other accumulated debts are already overwhelming you. Most importantly, the holidays are more about your presence than the presents, so try to make a conscious effort to shop thoughtfully and spend less,” advises Powell.

With the holiday spirit in mind, MNP Ltd. has re-released an ‘un-shopping’ holiday gift guide designed to help minimize the crushing burden of post-holiday debt.


MNP’s Holiday Gift Guide - 2018

It’s about your presence, not the presents!

  1. Quality time
    One of the best gifts you could give someone is your time. Spending valuable time with your loved ones creates more meaningful memories. Disconnect from your devices so you can re-connect with your loved ones. Play a board game, make a puzzle, build a snowman, go tobogganing or bake some cookies. Volunteer to babysit your nieces and nephews while their parents get that much needed break or spend time together as a family cooking a holiday meal.
  2. A heartfelt ‘thank you’
    In a time where emails and messages are the preferred means of communication, take the time to express gratitude and show appreciation by sharing a handwritten note or telling a loved one what their friendship means to you.
  3. Thoughtful homemade gifts
    Bring out the creative side in you and make a gift for your loved ones. Not only can you create something they are sure to love, but you can also customize it to suit their taste. Between Pinterest and Youtube you’ll find all the inspiration you need to unleash your creativity, and build something your loved ones are sure to cherish for a long time.
  4. Volunteering
    Nothing boosts your spirits and makes you feel as great as helping someone in need. Make a new tradition with family or your group of friends and donate a few hours at a local non-profit to help those in need.
  5. Random acts of kindness
    Shovel your neighbour’s driveway, compliment a co-worker’s festive sweater, and offer to help with cooking or baking. You can brighten the holidays by generously giving your time for random acts of kindness.


MNP LTD, a division of MNP LLP, is the largest insolvency practice in Canada. For more than 50 years, our experienced team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees and advisors have been working with individuals to help them recover from times of financial distress and regain control of their finances. With more than 230 Canadian offices from coast-to-coast, MNP helps thousands of Canadians each year who are struggling with an overwhelming amount of debt. Visit to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or get a free checkup for your debt health using the MNP Debt Scale.

About the Survey

The survey was compiled by Ipsos on behalf of MNP LTD between December 7 and 12, 2018. For this survey, a sample of 2,154 Canadians from the Ipsos I-Say panel was interviewed online. The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within +/- 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults been polled. Credibility intervals are wider among subsets of the population.

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