How to Budget for the Holidays When You Have DebtDec 05, 2017
Getting caught up in the holiday spirit is pretty easy — you can’t walk into a coffee shop or turn on the radio without seeing or hearing the signs of the season. For Canadian families living with debt, though, the holidays present some challenges.
Getting caught up in the holiday spirit can mean overspending. Last year, more than half (51 per cent) of respondents to a CIBC poll expected to spend over their holiday budget and carry some debt into the new year.
Adding to consumer debt during the holidays should be avoided — but how do you find balance between gift-giving and saving for future help with debt relief?
It starts early with making a plan, and taking a new approach to how you budget for the holiday season. Here are two ways to make it happen.
Combine your holiday budget with your household budget
It’s no secret that December is when many people open their pocketbooks in earnest — but if you’re trying to stay within a household budget as part of a debt relief plan, help can come by treating December like any other month.
To do this, combine your holiday budget with other household expenses and plan ahead. Make a list of all the holiday-related purchases you need to make: gifts, wrapping, outfits, travel, even the extra gas required to go shopping. Use a holiday spending budget worksheet like this one to see everything in one place.
Find simple ways to slice into holiday spending
From there, you can make decisions on where you can cut back to keep everything under your household limit. Maybe it’s more home-cooked meals in the weeks ahead of holiday break, or walking to a nearby shop instead of commuting to a shopping mall. Small changes can make a difference.
This blog from Hope and Cents offers 51(!) tips for a frugal Christmas, including the total spend budget explained above. Other tips include adopting a “shop for the kids only” rule with extended family, or doing a Secret Santa exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone.
Starting with a plan to stay within your household budget can help you avoid debt relief in 2018. Keep a positive attitude, avoid pitfalls, and you can still have a happy holiday season — even on a budget.