‘Tis the season to be over-extended!

Your family has decided to do a ‘Secret Santa’ this year rather than buying gifts for everyone; except, while you were at the mall you couldn’t resist buying them each a little something. Impulse shopping can get you into big financial trouble! Focussing on how these purchases impact your financial situation in the here and now rather than in the New Year is very important. If you have difficulty paying the bills today, you will still have the same issue tomorrow. Creating holiday spending guidelines is the best gift we can give ourselves.

Pay for your purchases with cash or debit to help control what you spend this holiday season. Retailers and credit card companies try very hard to create a spending frenzy for consumers at this time of year and it’s important you resist their tempting offers.

The best way to keep your spending in check is to create an annual budget for your household. It is important within this budget to allocate enough money to cover your holiday season expenses. As well, remembering these few simple steps will help insure you stay on track with your spending and the only things under the tree will be gifts!

1. Deck your halls with only what you can afford. Beautiful holiday season displays are everywhere and the temptation may be great to update your decorations; remember on December 26th all of those items will be on sale for 50% off!

2. ‘Tis the season to be creative with your gift giving. Make it yourself or suggest to friends and family they too reduce their holiday spend by participating in a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange or putting a limit on the amount of money spent per gift.

3. Don we now our already owned gay apparel! Tempting as it might be to buy new outfits for the family to wear during the holidays; perhaps only purchasing updated accessories will spruce up everyone’s wardrobe.

Let’s make this your season to be jolly by keeping your household finances in order!

Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT). Consolidated Credit is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance through web-based budget and debt analysis tools, financial literacy community outreach programs and in-person or telephone counselling. CAGT is a non-profit association with a mission to provide a dynamic forum in which members can share information and expertise.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Christopher Brignell

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