Trim The Tree & Your Budget This Christmas - The Smiling Heart

Trim The Tree & Your Budget This Christmas

Your kids approach their advent calendars with shameless excitement. A rare chocolate sweet with breakfast is only partly the reason why they arrive at the table practically buzzing. The fact that with every date they open means they’re one step closer to the big day helps!

Your advent calendar doesn’t give you as much reason to cheer. You greet each day with another new bill as you curate a holiday that meets your kids’ expectations. Between the gingerbread house kits, the house-wide decorations, and the presents “from Santa”, the season’s festivities add up. If you aren’t prepared, the added strain on your budget may be enough to bust it entirely.

Red is the only colour the nation will see this holiday:

Last year, a CIBC survey estimated Canadians planned to spend an average of roughly $600 on holiday shopping alone. While Millennials across the country spent the least, averaging just $400 on gifts, those in Atlantic Canada pushed their spending as high as $803. Wherever they fell on the spectrum, many of those surveyed admit to relying on credit to put presents in their stockings and turkey on their tables.

Yet another survey, this time completed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, clocked the average holiday spending as high as $884 on gifts in 2016. In another separate study, BMO found that, once you include the money spent on travelling and entertaining, the true cost of the season is much closer to $1,551.

A budget is essential if you expect to limit spending

Jumping into the holiday season without a trusty budget in hand is asking for trouble. You need to get intimate with your finances, so you know exactly how much expendable cash you have to spend on the holidays. It will also outline where you’re wasting money, so you can stop making these purchases and redirect that money into a holiday fund.

The earlier you attend this task, the better. With the cushion of time, you won’t have to make as many austere budget cuts to scrounge up some extra cash before the big day. If you start as early as the spring, you have several months where you can simply cut down on the family’s take-out dinners or withhold a few toys you’d usually pick up without a second thought.

If you’re not blessed with a perfect memory, you may forget about the holidays until it’s too late — at which point you may not have any expendable purchases you can eliminate without threatening the fun of the season. A budget is still helpful, however. It will tell you your limits.

Many head online to save money

When you’re working with a very limited budget, you may not be able to uncover a mountain of cash to help fund the holidays. But you can find ways to limit your spending so that it fits within your budget. Many Canadians fill their smartphones with apps that locate special deals and retailers offering the lowest prices. The experts at CNN Money have made a list of the best shopping apps here, so you can find a few that work with your spending habits.

Many Canadians still dip into savings meant for emergencies and credit to make up the difference these apps can’t save. If you’ve tried your hardest to save, and you still think you’re going to go over budget, investigate what kind of personal loans are available at this time of year. Though you may not need to rely on them, it’s important you understand your personal loan options just in case you do. These financial products can help cover a shortfall in your budget after you spent the last of your cash on Christmas dinner but suddenly have to call in a plumber to fix a frozen pipe. It floats you enough cash to cover the plumber’s holiday prices until you get back to working regular hours.

The holidays can be a trying time for your wallet, but the solution to your financial woes doesn’t come at the sacrifice of the season’s delights. You can give your kids a perfect Christmas without threatening your finances by planning ahead. When you can keep track of your spending, nabbing deals as you prepare for the season, your thoughts won’t focus so much on your debts. You might just be able to experience the holidays with as much excitement as your kids do!