Let’s talk holiday shopping

Here’s something I drafted but didn’t use. I thought I’d put it here:


Have you started your holiday shopping yet? If you’re like most of us, you’re probably planning do it in the next couple weeks but how are you planning on paying for it?

Here’s what happens – you go into a mall, walk around, peer at things and buy something that might work for our family and friends.  The next thing you know, you’ve overspent your budget and become one of the 12 per cent of Canadians who go into debt for holiday gifts! 

Taking on more debt and paying interest on that debt is just not worth it. With a little legwork, I promise your holidays will be fun, debt-free and leave you with cash in your pocket.

Let’s assume you’ve already planned your holiday budget (and if not, why not?). But you’re not quite ready to go forth and shop.  Once you’ve got your budget, the first thing you need to do is cut it – there are always options that can reduce how much you spend.

One of them is sitting down and deciding who gets gifts. Does everyone on your list need a gift? Why? What’s the obligation? You may feel like a Grinch but does your second-cousin’s daughter really need something if you see her once a year?

Christmas is about giving but a gift should be something you give because you want to, not because it’s an obligation.

So edit that Christmas list and don’t feel bad about doing it. Explain to anyone who asks that you’re trying to be responsible with your money.

Once you’ve cut your list down to size, the next step is to ask everyone on that list what they want for Christmas. Almost everyone has an idea of what they would like to get and most people keep budgets in mind when it comes to gifts except for children who will tell you they want the biggest, noisiest, shiniest thing ever. More on that, later.

Now it’s time to see if you can some find some deals. The best thing about shopping this time of year is that retailers are desperate for you to buy from them. That means sales, discounts, special offers and free shipping just waiting for you to take advantage of them.

If you’re not technologically-inclined, it’s time to go old school by clipping coupons and comparison shopping. It worked for our parents and grandparents so it should work for you. Don’t just toss those flyers – read them with your list in mind. See who has sales and who is offering that same item for a cheaper price.

If you like to do your shopping online, comparison shopping works online, too. It’s a good idea to always check out the websites for brick and mortar retailers like Old Navy or Future Shop on your way to Amazon to see if there are any special online discounts or free shipping. You can also check out sites like RetailMeNot or Ebates.ca that offer coupons or money back when you shop.

It may sound like a lot of work when you’re already busy trying to prepare for the holidays, but remember your goal is to save money and avoid debt. A happy new year without new debt is worth the effort.

And if you do plan on using your credit card, I want you to follow these exact tips, go shopping, and immediately pay off your card. Don’t wait until the statement comes in.

Now you’re prepared to go holiday shopping. The only thing I can’t help you with is finding a parking spot. Good luck!

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