Six tips for smart holiday shopping

18 December 2015
Author: Chloe Stanois
During the holiday season, it is easy to let your spending go overboard since there is more pressure to spend money. However, it is possible to get into the holiday spirit without getting into debt. We have six tips for smart holiday shopping to keep your spending on track. 
 
1. Make a budget: Create a budget that tracks your income (money coming in) and expenses (money going out) during the holidays. Sticking to a budget can help you feel more calm and in control of your finances to avoid the stress and financial cost that comes with over-spending. To get the most from your budget be honest, realistic and goal-focused. You can build your own budget with this online worksheet to help you stay on track. 
 
2. Have a plan: Try to avoid impulse buying by making a list. Planning what groceries or gifts you need to buy will help you avoid purchasing items that you do not need. Especially during the holiday season, stores can create a lot of pressure to buy items that aren’t on your list. If you want to buy something, take the time to ask yourself if you truly need it and have room for it in your budget. Try using the gift spending worksheet or the holiday spending worksheet to make your own plan. 
 
3. Downsize your list: Having a bigger gift list tends to lead to bigger bills to pay at the end of the month. Try to make your list smaller by initiating a “Secret Santa” gift exchange or by only buying for people who you know are buying for you. You can mail a holiday card or send an e-card to everyone else to wish them a happy holiday as well. 
 
4. Try alternative shopping: Make the most out of your budget by shopping at second-hand stores or flea markets. You can find great gifts, including many new items, at a fraction of the cost you’d pay anywhere else. There are also many websites where people sell their used items at a low cost. When buying used items, inspect them to ensure they are in good, working condition as most private sellers do not offer refunds. 
 
5. Minimize the use of credit: Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for holiday purchases, but it is important to remember not to spend beyond your means or use all of your available credit. Only use as much credit as you can afford to pay back to make sure that you can pay the bills in January. If you can’t pay your full balance by the payment deadline, always pay at least the minimum payment. 
 
6. Undo your slip-ups: Did you spend more than you meant to? Don’t let the stress of your finances ruin your holiday. Go back and re-work your budget to track how much money you have, how much you need, and what you spent your money on. You can find creative ways to get back on track such as making homemade gifts, returning items you bought on an impulse or looking for free gift-worthy items. 
 
The advice in this blog post was taken from Prosper Canada’s Financial Literacy Facilitator Resources. To learn more, visit this link and see the modules on budgeting and consumerism, and credit basics. 

THE AUTHOR

Chloe Stanois is the Marketing and Communications Officer at Prosper Canada. Chloe is passionate about using storytelling to share Prosper Canada's vision and connect with others. She has a communication studies and sociology degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a corporate communications and public relations post-graduate certificate from Centennial College.

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