Avoiding the 12 financial blunders of Christmas
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With the silly season of Black Friday/Cyber Monday in the rearview mirror, we can all take a collective sigh and let our guards down. JUST KIDDING — a new month of shopping exuberance was immediately upon us.
With inflation near record highs and Canada experiencing the fastest increase in cost of living since 2003, here is some seasonal, spiritual relief to help Canadians fight the urges and temptations to overspend.
You don’t have to be Scrooge or wear your resting Grinch face to enjoy the holidays. Ultimately, avoiding holiday overspending requires planning, a bit of research, and quality over quantity.
Whether you’re hungry, hangry or tired, there is relief to help avoid the 12 financial blunders of Christmas. Consider this a cautionary guide to coasting credit-free through the holidays.
Overbuying: It’s a relief to be done with the holiday shopping early, but once you are done, stay done. Try to avoid being tempted to get yet another holiday gift for Aunt Millie or your pet.
Not comparison shopping: Let’s face it, high-end stores have high end prices. Look around, shop outlets for the same gift, or wait for a great sale on what you are looking for.
Keeping up with rich relatives: The Joneses may be able to buy lavish presents for everyone, but this doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
Not being creative with your gift decisions: The value of a thoughtful gift is immeasurable. Who doesn’t like homemade cookies?!
Not making a list, and not checking it twice: We have all done this — we go to the store, get everything we think we need (it’s in our head somewhere) and walk away, only to have to make another trip to the store.
Not knowing what you’re spending: Keep track of credit card purchases to avoid the heart attack when you look at your credit statement.
Shopping when you are hungry, hangry or tired: Hello? Food court, here I come. Let’s face it — if you are hungry, you’re not thinking straight, and impulse buying happens.
Shopping in uncomfortable clothing: Going to the mall in high heels? Guess what, halfway through your excursion, you will purchase the most comfortable pair of shoes.
Late-night online shopping: Don’t have buyer’s remorse in the morning. Research shows our decision process weakens as the day wears on.
Don’t send someone else out to do your gift deeds: If you’re sending your husband out to buy your mom’s gift, his impatience may be costly.
Not remembering the total cost of the holidays: Make sure your budget includes all the costs of the season, including decorations, extra party food, lights, etc.
Not getting a few extra (inexpensive) gifts: for those unexpected people.
Canadians often assume debt is caused by poor money management, when in truth, the most common triggers are factors outside of people’s control. This disconnect feeds misconceptions, stigma and shame, making people less likely to reach out for help.
We may ask, with our collective and individual wants and desires and the added FOMO pressure, where is the fun in the festive season? Trust me, it’s there in abundance. We all can make the holiday season less intense and more enjoyable, and still within a budget. There is such a thing as relief and festive frugality.
Laurie Campbell is director of client financial wellness at the licensed insolvency trustee Bromwich+Smith.