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The approaching holiday season can bring new memories, time to reconnect with loved ones and celebrate the season. For some though, the financial pressures can mean big stress throughout the holidays that often endures long after the festive times have passed.

Blair Mantin, Vancouver debt help expert and Licensed Insolvency Trustee at Sands & Associates sees firsthand how the financial demands of the season can impact people. Blair shares some quick holiday spending tips to help financially aware consumers get through the holidays with less debt and more cheer!

Watch the clip here and read more below:

Surprising someone in your life with a thoughtful gift doesn’t have to come with a big price tag. Instead of breaking the bank doling out gifts, consider alternatives that can also have a double-benefit – especially for those folks on your list who are notoriously hard to buy for:

  1. Charitable Donations

Many charities offer the option to give a gift on behalf of another person, providing much-needed support to worthy causes both locally and globally:

  • Even for children, this can be a great opportunity to demonstrate empathy and conversation about helping someone else who may be less fortunate;
  • Consider programs such as UNICEF Survival Gifts – these can range from newborn baby necessities, to school supplies for a classroom, all the way up to providing a drinking water pump to bring sanitation and clean water to a community who would not have it otherwise;
  • The added benefit for you the gift giver is that these gifts are also charitable donations that you can receive a tax credit for – win-win!
  1. Experiences as Gifts

Consider gifting an activity or organizing an outing rather than adding “just another toy” or to collections of “stuff” this year – it may cost less to collectively organize a group or family outing than to individually buy for everyone on your list. A bonus benefit is that these types of gifts make memories that last longer than a trendy toy, and they don’t need any fancy packing to give!

Some ideas to try out (and don’t forget to check places like Groupon):

  • Learn a new skill with a class such as painting, crafting or cooking;
  • Catch a live performance show, market or sports event;
  • Book a local walking tour or excursion to be a tourist in your own city.

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While it’s always a good idea to have a shopping plan and to stick to your list, you can also move beyond the golden rule of holiday shopping with these smart shopping strategies:

  1. Avoiding the Impulse Buys

Sometimes sticking to your plan is easier said than done – if you find your holiday budget is usually derailed with unplanned purchases, consider:

  • Unsubscribing from email lists with too-tempting shopping offers;
  • Using a grocery service that delivers so you can stay out of stores packed with seasonal wares and resist the urge to “just look”;
  • Stepping back from online shopping carts before checking out – are those purchases really what you want in another half an hour?
  1. Know the True Cost

No matter what your holiday budget is, it’s important to factor in the full cost of anything you’re purchasing and whether what you’re buying is truly worth it – after all, a $500 item you buy for $400 is still $400 spent – or more!

  • Read all the fine print in any “buy now, pay later” deferred payment specials offered – you may find there are fees for using what is essentially a store’s credit;
  • If you’re charging purchases to your credit cards remember that if you’re not able to pay the balance in full at the end of the month, you’ll be charged interest on those purchases.
    • Consider that if you have to carry an item on a credit card balance until next Christmas, you’re paying a 20-30% premium in interest charges above and beyond the item cost.

With any type of credit, be sure to have a realistic plan on when and how you’ll have it all paid off – no one wants to be stuck paying for their holidays until June!

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  1. Engage Team Spirit

What better time of year to emphasize your family, workplace or friends’ team spirit and togetherness? Keep the emphasis on people instead of prices with things like:

  • Group present swaps or secret Santas where each person only buys for one;
  • Booking group accommodations if everyone is heading out of town together;
  • Capping gift budgets at a low number to see who can be the most creative with $20.

Don’t forget to look out for one another – the holidays can be a financial strain for many people, and oftentimes someone who is struggling all year may feel embarrassed or worried about letting someone down. This can also be a good time of year to check-in on older relatives who may need extra help, both physically and financially.

If you’re worried debt will spoil your holiday season or want to get ahead on your New Year’s resolutions – connect with Blair and his team at Sands & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustees. In less than an hour they can help you get a plan to become debt-free.

Book your free confidential debt consultation with a local Sands & Associates debt help expert now.