8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Season Money Stress

By Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada

Christmas ornament and aspirin bottle

1. Focus On Experiences, Not Gifts. You probably can’t remember the majority of the gifts you gave or received as a child. You may however, have fond memories of events or family traditions that you treasure. It is never too late to create a new tradition that your family can enjoy year after year. Explore your family’s ethnic heritage to find new holiday traditions you can incorporate into your celebration. An Internet search can yield a lot of information on holiday traditions. Another good source is your local library where you may want to check out books on traditions such as The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everydays by Meg Cox.

2. Give of Yourself. Create gift certificates offering services to your friends, neighbours or your family. Coupon books can be decorated and personalized for the recipient. Tasks may include a car wash, baking, babysitting, laundry or something fun like a game night at home or a day at the park.

3. Ask for Gift Receipts when you buy gifts and include them with the item you are giving. This makes returns or exchanges easier on the recipient and you know that your gift will not go unused or unworn.

4. Stick to A Budget. Use the holiday spending planner worksheets in this brochure to plan your holiday spending. Suggest that adult family members exchanging gifts set a spending limit and consider drawing names instead of buying for everyone. Also, consider giving gift cards for family gifts. Then hit the stores on Boxing Day for amazing bargains!

5. Use No More Than Two Credit Cards. Buying an item with a credit card gives you protection that paying by cash or cheque does not. If the item is not what you ordered, or there is a problem, you may be able to get your creditor’s help in obtaining a refund. Keep in mind, though, that credit cards can make it easy to spend over your budget. Try limiting yourself to a low-rate credit card for any purchases that you may need to pay off over time and another credit card you can pay in full when the bill arrives. Write down your holiday purchases when you make them so you don’t lose track of your spending. If you do need to dispute a purchase made by credit card, make sure you put your request in writing to your credit card company right away to protect your rights. A follow up phone call regarding the dispute may be a good idea as well. Many creditors will handle and resolve your dispute over the phone.

6. Plan Ahead. Make a list of people and gifts. Don’t “over buy” or purchase items just because they are on sale. This can result in wasted money on gifts that are never even given.

7. Make A Day of the Holiday. Plan a special activity for the afternoon or the day after the holiday. Whether it’s skiing or skating, putting together a family skit or building a bonfire in the evening, make an effort to focus on spending time with those you love. If you don’t have family to share the day with, look for opportunities to volunteer and help others who may be alone on the holiday.

8. Be Thankful. When we’re bombarded with holiday stress, it is easy to lose sight of the things that are really important. Take time for yourself during the holidays to reflect on why you are celebrating in the first place. Create a holiday memory book to record the things and the people that you are thankful for. Make more than one and give as gifts to family!

Excerpted from "Holiday Survival Guide". Reproduced with permission of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc., www.consolidatedcredit.ca.


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