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How to save money during Christmas, Hanukkah


After several months of high inflation rates, this holiday season could be particularly stressful for Canadians looking to cut spending.

A recent report from Deloitte Canada shows that holiday spending is expected to drop 17% this year, to $1,520 per household. That compares to $1,841 per household in 2021. The company’s holiday retail outlook for 2022 also shows Canadians will likely spend about 10% less on gifts and gift cards this year, for a total of $510.

“[This is] it’s no big surprise when you think about what’s happening around us,” Marty Weintraub, partner and national retail advisory leader at Deloitte Canada, told CTVNews.ca. “We have prices rising rapidly with interest rate challenges ahead, [and] there are still supply chain issues.

According to Weintraub, the main reason for this alleged decline in spending is fear surrounding Canada’s current economic climate. About 41% of people polled by Deloitte Canada said their household finances have shrunk this year, while 48% said they expect the economy to deteriorate in 2023. This comes as economists from the Royal Bank of Canada predict that the country will enter a recession. early next year.

“We have an impending economic downturn,” Weintraub said. “[Based on] public sentiment and the posts we’re looking at, it looks like it’s going to happen…and it’s heightening the anxiety even more.

It can also create some tension for those looking to celebrate the holiday season after years of public health restrictions related to COVID-19, said Anne Arbour, financial educator at the Credit Counseling Society.

“There’s a desire to… go out and hang out and have a good time again,” she told CTVNews.ca. “But there’s also the reality of food and gas…which cost a lot more.”

Weintraub and Arbor are two of many experts who spoke with CTVNews.ca about how Canadians can cut spending this holiday season. From hosting friends and family to buying gifts for loved ones, here are some tips for making the most of the holiday season without breaking the bank.

CREATE A HOLIDAY BUDGET

To limit spending this holiday season, Canadians should start by determining their current cash flow situation, said Kelly Ho, certified financial planner at DLD Financial Group Ltd. based in Vancouver.

This involves identifying mandatory expenses – non-negotiable payments such as those that go to housing, transportation and debt, for example – and discretionary costs, as well as the amount of money saved on a monthly basis. .

From there, it will be easier to build a vacation budget based on what they’re comfortable spending on gifts, food and other expenses throughout the vacation, she said.

“When you know what your true situation is, you can be much more realistic about what you decide to do for the upcoming holiday season,” Ho told CTVNews.ca.

Ultimately, the goal is to spend less than you’ve saved, said Emile Khayat, senior regional manager at Financial Planning, TD Wealth Management.

Another useful strategy would be to look at how much money was spent over the holiday season last year, Ho said. From there, you can decide if those same items or events are still on the list, or whether there are opportunities to cut expenses.

“There’s a lot of homework in there, but when people are in tight financial straits, you have no choice,” Ho said.

BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR GIFTS

Economic challenges can provide opportunities for Canadians to find unique gift ideas that include more than just tangible items, said Evelyn Jacks. The Winnipeg financial expert is the president of the Knowledge Bureau, a financial education institute.

“Think of this holiday season as old-fashioned,” she told CTVNews.ca. “Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is the gift of time.”

Instead of spending money on expensive goods, Canadians can invest in shared experiences that might not cost as much, Khayat said, like going to a restaurant or spending an afternoon together. Homemade gifts can also be a cheaper alternative to buying gifts for loved ones at the store, he said.

Another way to save money while giving gifts is to hold a gift exchange among a large group of people, where each person buys a gift for someone else, Khayat said.

“It’s definitely cheaper than buying a gift for each person,” he told CTVNews.ca.

A final option, especially for parents, is to set aside money for their children in a tax-free savings account or registered education savings plan as a gift. It also acts as an investment for the future, Jacks said.

“It brings an educational culture to the family, where the kids know that every year mom and dad are saving for me,” Jacks said. “What a wonderful gift this is.”

START PLANNING EARLY

By making a spending plan ahead of the holiday season, Canadians can start putting money aside ahead of time to pay for gifts, food and other expenses throughout the holiday season, Arbor said. .

Deciding in advance what gifts to give and for whom can also help you get great deals throughout the year, whether in-store or online, Khayat said. Also, by buying in advance, you can avoid situations where items are out of stock due to high demand during the holidays.

When it comes to planning for the 2023 holiday season, Ho said she recommends starting as early as January.

“Work out the costs and average them over 11 months to see how much you would need to save to make sure that happens next December,” she said.

Taking a strategic approach to spending can help Canadians avoid worrying about their finances, especially when credit card bills arrive in January, Jacks said.

OFFER HUNT

According to Weintraub, one tactic Canadians are likely to implement this holiday season is to shop for brand name gifts at cheaper prices.

“Instead of buying a certain brand at a certain price, I will always buy the same thing from you, but I will buy a cheaper brand at a lower price,” Weintraub said. “The choices we make will likely be value oriented for now.”

The same goes for grocery shopping, he said, especially for those expecting to host during the holiday season. It would be wise to shop around and buy items at the lowest possible price, Weintraub said.

“Buy more private label or private label [food products] is another way to save 10, 15, or 20 percent upfront,” Weintraub said. “Canadians always like bargains and bargains; there will be even more love over the next six to 12 months. »

Signing up for email alerts from stores you normally shop at is another way to stay up to date with the latest deals, Khayat said. He also recommends taking advantage of loyalty programs. Points earned by shopping at different retailers or using different credit cards can be redeemed for discounts, gift cards and more, Khayat said.

“There are always ways to get that monetary value out of those points and use them for something else,” he said.

AVOID USING CREDIT CARDS

Another way to limit spending during the holiday season is to make cash payments rather than using credit, Arbor said. It can help you avoid overspending, which is easier to do when pressing a piece of plastic rather than paying with a limited amount of cash on hand, she said.

“The pain point of parting with our money is real,” she said. “It may seem a little less concrete when we use credit.”

Jacks also advises Canadians to think twice about paying with a credit card this holiday season. While using credit can allow them to pay for expenses at a later date, they should always consider whether they can afford those purchases now, she said.

“If you can’t afford these expenses today… chances are you won’t be able to afford them when the credit card [bill] pass,” Jacks said. “Then you’re going to have to deal with high interest charges on top of your expenses.”

SHARE HOSTING RESPONSIBILITIES

For those who will be hosting guests over the holidays, one way to keep expenses down can be to hold potlucks, where each guest brings a different dish. This can help take some of the burden of making food off the host, Jacks said.

For families who want to order, splitting the cost among guests is also an economical option, Ho said.

This year can also be a good time to reconsider the types of get-togethers you have with friends and family members throughout the holiday season. Maybe hosting a brunch or cocktail party instead of a formal sit-down dinner is easier on the wallet, Arbor said. It’s also worth considering whether it’s necessary to attend these kinds of events in the first place, Ho said.

“Pull out the December calendar and see what you really want to commit to,” she said. “You don’t have to go to everything.”

OPENLY DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS

As many Canadians feel the pinch of high inflation and rising interest rates, it can be helpful to have a conversation with friends and family about what types of vacation plans are affordable, Ho said. .

This may involve talking with loved ones about reducing the number of meetings or talking with friends about whether it is really necessary to buy gifts for their children.

“All it takes is one person to break the ice…and say, ‘Hey, no pressure, everyone’s in different situations, let’s talk about it,'” she said. “Because the last thing we want is for someone to get into a rough patch. [financial] situation.”

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