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With the constant talk about personal debt levels and the economy, a looming holiday season may be the last thing a lot of Canadians want to think about.  Like it or not, that time of year will be upon us before you know it!  If the thought of the upcoming cost is leaving you anything but jolly, read on for some tips on how to get yourself and your finances through the holidays unscathed:

Plan Ahead:  This is pretty much a golden rule for every aspect of the holidays.  Before you set out to shop for gifts, plan the budget, what you’re getting for whom, and where you’ll get it from.   If you’re hosting meals or gatherings, sort out a menu and scour flyers.  Also, be sure to have extra freezer space for your leftovers so you can make the most of your groceries.  Double-checking that you don’t already have incidentals such as wrapping paper, greeting cards and even canned goods before you shop is also a good way to stretch your budget.  Give yourself enough time; this will prevent last-minute (and often overpriced) purchases.

Get Crafty:  Costs for small items like gift tags, Christmas crackers and decorations can really add up if you’re buying them each and every year.  If you’ve got a little extra time, browse online for some ideas on turning recyclables or last year’s decor into something new.  This can be a great (and thrifty!) tradition to start in your family with projects ranging in variety.  Be sure to store holiday items well when it’s time to take them down.  This will save having to buy new ones next year.

Travel Smart:  If you’re headed out of town try to book everything as far ahead as possible and compare rates.  Check mid-week options as they usually have lower prices.  Consider booking less expensive connecting flights and take advantage of any student or senior discounts available.  Driving yourself?  See if you can carpool with other family or friends to split costs.  If you’re hosting travellers don’t be afraid to delegate hosting duties or ask your guests to bring along provisions if it’s a lengthy stay.  Besides taking a toll on your wallet, having house guests can create extra anxiety over getting things just right.

Change it Up:  If every year your holiday traditions come with a big price tag, consider revamping.  Talk to other family members and get everyone to contribute some new ideas.  You may find that you’re not alone in wanting to celebrate in fresh (and budget-conscious) ways.  Instead of splashing out, try a “no-spend” season where everyone contributes towards a meal without a gift exchange.  If gift-giving is a must, try drawing names and play “Secret Santa” or swap re-gifts.  See what creative ways you can celebrate as a family without spending much.

Nowadays no one wants to break the bank doling out for season’s greetings they can’t afford.  Instead of stressing over the financial crunch the festivities can bring, focus on ways to leave your finances with warm fuzzy feelings this year – plus it’ll be one less thing for your New Year’s resolution list!

If you’re struggling with your debts please contact us for a free, confidential consultation regarding your available options.