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October 19, 2012


The holiday season is approaching, and with family gatherings, gift giving, increased travel and holiday splurges it’s an expensive time of year.  We are rolling out a new series of great tips to help you save money this Thanksgiving and Christmas, and yes you should start planning early to achieve the best savings!


1. Use Cash. You have probably heard/read that “cash is king” many times, but when it comes to saving money on the expensive holiday season, the worst thing to do is pay for it on credit. The fees and interest of credit will only add to the expense, and you are much more likely to spend more than you can afford when using credit. You need to budget and save for this cost year round so that you are prepared and don’t find yourself “in the hole” in January. Debit cards are certainly better than credit cards and more convenient than cash, but beware that even though you can’t spend more than you have (unless you have overdraft) you will likely spend more than you should. Keep the cards at home and bring cash in your wallet when you go shopping. You can’t spend more than you’ve got, and you’ll probably feel the expense of what you’re buying more tangibly when you hand over those $20 bills from your bank account.  Paying with cash will likely save you a lot of money this holiday season.

Family Feasts

turkeyDinnerDo you host the annual turkey dinner for your extended family? There are many ways you can save on the costs of the occasion.

2. Try alternating hosts each year between you, your parents, or your brother/sister so the financial burden doesn’t always fall on you.

3. If you really enjoy being the host, make it a potluck style dinner, where you cook the turkey and your signature stuffing (or whatever your favourite dish is) and ask others to bring the dessert and side dishes. Slow cookers are perfect for keeping mashed potatoes hot, and you can find lots of recipes and tips for potluck dishes ideal for travel.

4. Make sure you plan your meal ahead of time so you can buy your ingredients in advance when they are on sale, and/or you have the time to collect and use coupons. If you know you’ll be making your family’s favourite pumpkin pie again, stock up on pumpkin puree and spices early when the prices are cheaper and there’s still plenty on the store shelf.

Gift Giving

Each year you have a long list of people you will buy gifts for, and probably a loose budget you have in mind for each.


5. Start by cutting down your list. Do you really need to buy a gift for all the coworkers in your office, your child’s school principal and other acquaintances? No, no you don’t.

  • If there is an expectation of gift exchange with someone you have a less than close relationship with, discuss with them in advance that you are cutting back this year, and maybe suggest going for a “Christmas” coffee together as a way to celebrate the season without breaking the bank.
  • If you feel compelled to give something, consider a simple card with a heartfelt note, and maybe a candy cane attached, people love candy canes.

 6. Find gift alternatives. Now let’s say you have close relationships with a lot of people, such as a large extended family, who you struggle to find gifts for each year, or just buy gift cards in bulk to ease your stress. Again, discuss with them in advance that this year you would love to change things up.

  • Go with the “Secret Santa” approach, where you can focus on getting a thoughtful gift for just one person in the group.
  • Arrange to spend time together with food or an activity in lieu of gifts. How can you fit all this extra bonding time into your busy holiday schedule? Your hours spent shopping for gifts will be cut by a fraction, and your social time should be much more enjoyable and stress-free to boot.
  • Another great idea is to donate to a charity in honor of a family or group of friends. Let them know you care by giving to a deserving and meaningful charity – both sides will appreciate the gesture and it will save you money over the cost of individual gifts. Make sure you consult your gift budget and set your donation at an appropriate amount. You could also combine the bonding activity idea with giving to charity by volunteering your time together, helping at a food bank or soup kitchen for example.

Remember, if you are experiencing financial difficulties do not wait. Call Solutions Credit Counselling at 1(877)588-9491 or fill out our Debt Consolidation Questionnaire and get your Free Credit Counselling Advice today.

For more information visit Debt Canada - your Canadian credit education centre.

If you are a woman in debt, speak with Women and Money first. We specialize in helping women with their personal and business financeMoney management advice you can count on!

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