Taking the Financial Burden out of Christmas

Courtesy of Lorna Maughan, Posted 06 Dec 2016


So is it just me who gets to the start of December and suddenly starts to panic about how on earth we are going to pay for Christmas? In this day and age we are under so much pressure as parents to get the latest toys and gadgets and even if you don’t have children there are always extra costs at this time of year. Between the new dress for a party, gifts to teachers, family members and of course the extra groceries, it adds up quickly. A lot of us like to give to charities at this time of year too, so there is no doubt our expenditure will increase during December.

And then of course there’s the sales, who can resist a bargain?

So how do I tackle this constant outflow of money? Below I have some suggestions that might make December a more enjoyable time and take some of the stress out of the festive season!

Top tip for taking the financial stress out of Christmas today:

1)     Rather than buying new toys or gifts, look on web sites like Kijiji or shop in thrift stores like Value Village.

Certain gifts can be just as good if bought second hand, especially games, electronics or anything plastic that can be washed. If you managed to find something in a thrift store like Salvation Army then your purchase is also making a donation to charity.

 

Preparing throughout the year is most often your best bet:

2)     Set up an automatic payment early in the year from your chequing account to a savings account that is earmarked for Christmas.

For many years now I have had an automatic payment that leaves my chequing account and goes into my savings account every month. It can be for whatever amount you feel is appropriate, but make sure its affordable. If you set up to transfer too much you may be tempted to dip into the account. I do $50 per month, which gives me $600 in December and covers a good chunk of my gifts.

3)     Save up your Airmiles, or other rewards points, as cash if you can and use them to pay for your Christmas grocery bill

I set up my Airmiles loyalty card to save in dollars rather than Airmiles and by December each year I have around $80, I use this to pay for my Christmas groceries. It doesn’t cover the whole bill but it makes a good dent.

4)     In the spring, start to put aside items that you can sell, either hold a yard sale in the summer or use online sites like Facebook selling pages or Kijiji.

The Christmas before we came to Canada I wanted to buy the girls something extra special as it was going to be our last Christmas in the UK. However I knew it would mean going over my budget, so I spent most of the summer and Autumn selling items we no longer used or needed and I managed to raise enough money to buy the gifts. Not only did it help with a major clear out, as it would you, but also we managed to sell the things we didn’t want to ship here.

5)     Save all the bottles and cans that have a deposit. Save the money you get back and then in December donate this to your favourite charity, buy food for a food bank or whatever charity is close to your heart.

I save all our deposit based containers and over the course of the year this easily amounts to around $40, this would certainly be a welcome donation to any charity.

I hope you found these tips useful, and a good strategy to keep next year’s Christmas budget in line! If you require any more financial planning advice, on anything from cash flow to your pension, then absolutely contact me at lorna@trinitywealthpartners.ca or 902-835-1112.