Ahh… the holidays! It is the time of year where we enjoy a slower pace, more time with our loved ones, and celebrations of food, drink and merriment. Often, instead of relaxing and unwinding from the year and preparing for the new one ahead, this time can be very stressful. We’ve put together our top tips for holiday budgeting to ensure you can keep the happy in your holidays.

Begin with a List of Expenses

It can be hard to budget without a clear understanding of the holiday expenses you might incur. Take a bit of time to sit down and consider all the things you may need (or want) to purchase this holiday season. Gifts, groceries, alcohol, gift wrap, flower arrangements, a holiday tree or wreath, candles… it can quickly get out of control!

By understanding all the things on your expense list, you can begin to budget accordingly in order to purchase all of your desired items without borrowing money or using your credit cards. If your holiday shopping list drastically exceeds your ideal budget, you can use the list to consider items you can pass on or find for a more affordable price.

Set a Limit, Stay Within It

Holiday spending isn’t just overrun by expenses for our homes and loved ones, we often have additional social obligations that can quickly add up. Setting a budget limitation and sticking with it, no matter what, is critical.

First, it is important to categorize your expenses from your list and assign a budget to each. If you set a budget of $400 for dining out and holiday cocktails, and you’re at $380, start eyeing the appetizer menu or consider ordering a soda water instead of a $15 cocktail. If you really struggle with controlling your expenses, consider taking this money out as cash and when it runs out – that’s it! It can be easier to spend recklessly when you’re swiping a card, but having to hand over actual cash may give you a reason to pause and reconsider your purchase.

Sticking to the game plan will ensure no unexpected surprises on your credit card bills come January.

Shop Smart

You have the best intentions to give everything on the wish-list for your family and friends, but waiting until the last minute to get all of the gifts is a sure-fire way to overspend. Using the list of expenses you created, price check some of the expensive items on your phone or computer.  Amazon, big box stores, Wal-Mart and local retailers will all have different prices, so spend a bit of time finding the best deal and spread out purchases over a greater period of time.

You can also get creative about gifts for colleagues, extended family or others by re-gifting items from previous holidays, such as candles or bottles of wine. Making a charitable donation in someone’s name is also a way to shop smart, as it also provides a tax break to you.

Seek help

If the holidays have got you feeling more anxious than jolly, remember that you’re not alone. On average, Canadians owe $1.70 for every dollar of disposable income they have. Are you curious about other real facts on debt? You can access our white paper right here and learn more.

Don’t let your financial burden continue to develop into 2019. You deserve to start the new year with the joy the holiday spirit brings. If you’re concerned about your debt, or just want some advice, contact us today. We’re here to help ensure your holidays are merry and bright.