The “most wonderful time of the year”, as the song goes, is just around the corner. The holiday season offers many of us the chance to spend quality time with our loved ones, enjoy home-cooked meals, and purchase gifts for those who matter to you most. However, without proper financial planning, the holidays can be a source of great financial stress.
From purchasing gifts to the costs of travelling to be with your friends and family, the holidays can put a serious dent in your wallet.
Here are a few helpful tips from Canada’s credit unions to help you avoid ringing in the New Year with debt:
1. Hunt for the best deals
Rather than rushing to the mall to find the perfect gifts for your family, this holiday season try comparison shopping online from the comforts of your own home. Track your go-to brands and retailers and make a list of their holiday deals and online discount codes, to get the products you want at desirable prices. Hunting for bargains can help you keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket. And don’t forget, your local neighbourhood shops are increasingly online too, so check them out first (see #6 below!).
2. Start the new year off with no financial regrets
For many Canadians, credit cards are seen as a convenient solution to get your holiday shopping done all with a single swipe. However, when the euphoria of new purchases has worn off, the high credit cards bills will remain. Switch from a credit card to a debit card this year, to ensure your debt doesn’t follow you into the new year. If you choose to use your credit card to take advantage of specific benefits, remember to pay off your monthly bill in full. Visit your local credit union to learn about the affordable credit card options they offer and why they might be right for you. And here’s a new thought, set aside a certain percent of your holiday budget to give a “gift” to your RRSP! Your retirement will thank you.
3. Book a staycation
While a tropical getaway might be calling your name, book yourself a staycation instead. Save on the cost of an all-inclusive resort, and rather create your own five-star resort experience right at home. Queue up all the Netflix movies you’ve been waiting to see, order in from your favourite takeout spots, and pamper yourself with a nice at-home facial scrub guaranteed to melt all your stresses of the past year away.
4. Try shopping alone
Shopping trips with friends are fun but can often lead to you spending more money. To help curb the urge to splurge, create a shopping list before you head out and stick to it. By limiting your time in stores, you reduce the risk of impulse purchases. So, while shopping in pairs might seem like a great idea, avoid it so you don’t risk spending more than your budget.
5. Go DIY for the holidays
Add a personal touch to the holidays by choosing to make your friends and family a gift that comes straight from the heart. Homemade gifts offer a unique and fun gifting option, so turn your secret hobbies into some memorable presents that the whole family will love. For example, if you enjoy knitting, perhaps consider knitting each member of your family a nice scarf that’s sure to catch people’s eye when you send out your next holiday card. Knitting is just one example of the many great ways to get creative with your gift-giving this year.
6. Shop local
Make this holiday about more than the expensive gifts you buy. Credit unions are proud to support their local communities and businesses, and you can join in on the fun too! Shop for your holiday gifts at the small businesses in your neighbourhood. This will give you the chance to give your loved one’s unique gifts, all while supporting your community during these tough times.
7. Spread the love around
As another year of the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the holidays may not look the same for everyone. This December, consider donating to the Red Cross or your preferred charity to help support those affected by the flooding in British Columbia. However big or small the contribution, your donation can help those who were affected have a much happier holiday season.
Give yourself the greatest gift of all… become a credit union member
We hope that these tips set you up for a debt-free holiday season, and credit unions are a great financial option to keep your finances on track all year round. Not yet a credit union member? Click below to find your nearest credit union.