7 tips for keeping your holiday spending in check
(Reading time: 4:30)
You’ve made your gift list and checked it twice—but have you calculated how much all of that holiday shopping is going to cost?
While Canadians plan on spending slightly less than last year on their holiday purchases—that plan can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful.
Case and point, holiday shoppers ended up overspending by as much as $1,000 in 2020.
This holiday season, however, you can keep your spending in check with these 7 practical tips:
#1: Do your shopping homework (I.e. compare prices).
With 1 in 3 Canadians intending to make the bulk of their holiday purchases online, it’s a good rule of thumb to comparison shop before you buy. One of the perks of online shopping (besides avoiding the hustle and bustle) is that you’ll instantly be able to compare prices, which will save you time and money.
#2: Set a spending limit.
According to a holiday shopping survey from the Retail Council of Canada, 74% of holiday budgets will be spent on others, while 26% will spend money on themselves. Regardless of how you plan to spend that share of the holiday spending pie, be sure to review your budget first to determine how much disposable income you can comfortably spend on holiday purchases. The key is to not overstretch your budget when it comes to spending (I.e. making credit card purchases that you can’t immediately pay off).
#3: Be cautious when using department store-issued credit cards.
While retailers may offer incentives such as ‘X% off’ your purchases, department store credit cards also charge excessively high interest rates. This means that if you don’t pay off the card in full by the time the statement comes in, those interest charges could override any ‘amazing’ discounts you initially received.
Already feeling the pinch of holiday debt? Here are 3 tips to take your credit card debt to zero.
#4: Cash in on loyalty rewards.
If you’ve been saving up rewards points/dollars, you might be sitting on a sizeable sum of money that could be put towards offsetting a portion (or even all) of your holiday purchases.
How sizeable of a sum are we talking about?
A report from Ontario-based market research agency Bond Brand Loyalty estimates that Canadians are holding on to the equivalent of $16 billion in unused rewards points. That works out to a value of about $629 per collector. So whether your rewards tally up to just a few dollars, or a few hundred dollars—cashing in on loyalty rewards is definitely a win-win when it comes to holiday shopping.
#5: Don’t forget the coupons.
In addition to cashing in on your loyalty rewards, don’t forget to take advantage of the fine art of ‘couponing’. With online bargain sites such as rakuten.ca and smartcanucks.ca, you have instant access to a wealth of coupons in a single click.
#6: Shop Canadian to avoid duties, fees, and shipping charges.
If you’re ordering gifts from retailers outside of Canada, remember that you’ll most likely be incurring a host of additional charges that include currency conversion, shipping, duties, taxes, and customs broker fees. To avoid this not-so merry list of charges, it’s best to keep your holiday shopping within the Great White North.
Importing goods? Estimate how much in duties and taxes you can expect to pay.
#7: Protect yourself and your money from fraudsters.
The holiday season also tends to see a major spike in scams of all kinds. With each passing year, scammers are becoming increasingly adept at developing ways to trick consumers into giving them their money.
Here are a few of the latest scams to look out for:
Fake websites: These kinds of sites are on the rise, so pay extra attention to the smallest of details. Such as a logo that looks a little ‘off’, a misspelled brand name, or a web address that includes any weird characters.
How to protect yourself: Distinguish a legitimate website from a scam site by looking closely at the URL. A legitimate site will often have a secure URL that starts with ‘https’, while a scam site’s URL will start with ‘http’ (note the missing ‘s’).
Fake products: From the latest smartphones to the hottest toys of the year, scammers have also been posting classified ads boasting amazing discounts on the most popular products of the season. When consumers pay for these items, these sites/ads disappear and the products are never shipped.
How to protect yourself: Use only reputable websites/apps for making purchases, and never transfer money through a platform that is not associated with that site or app.
Cell phone scams: From so-called deals on air duct cleaning services, to being the big winner of a contest you never entered—when it comes to money-stealing schemes, telephone scammers are pulling out all the stops.
How to protect yourself: Simply hang up if a call sounds suspicious. If these types of calls persist, report the number to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and then block them.
Need help keeping your spending in check all year round? Call on Educators Financial Group.
No matter where you are on the pay grid or what your pension income is in retirement, we offer the kind of financial advice that is unique to education members like you.
Let’s chat about fine-tuning your financial plan for this holiday season and the year ahead.
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