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How to Avoid Overspending This Season


The pressure to give the perfect gift drives many people to blow their holiday budget and rack up debt. Other budget-busters include not tracking purchases, impulse buying extra presents and treating yourself a little too often.

While still lower than previous years, data shows that Canadian households spend an average of $1,520 each holiday season, according to the holiday spending study in 2022. Whether you’ve put aside the same amount as last year or are cutting your gift-giving budget, here are a few ways that you can make this a season of giving without overspending.

Make your list and check it twice

Instead of heading online or to a local store without a plan, make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for. Next, add up what you can realistically spend without going into debt — or having to dip into your January grocery money. Next, divvy up your budget based on how much you want to give to each of your loved ones. An important part of sticking to your budget is tracking what you actually spend, so you don’t go over what you’ve allocated for each person. 

Get creative with gift-giving

If you’re feeling financially overwhelmed, want to save on shipping costs or give on a smaller scale, consider:

  • Proposing a Secret Santa. Instead of having to buy multiple gifts for everyone in your family or circle of friends, you only have to buy one.
  • Going in on a gift. Rather than picking up the entire cost yourself, why not pool your resources with your family or friends? Interac e-Transfer is a great tool to help split the bill. You can request money, which means that if you’re the one buying the gift, you can easily remind everyone else how much they owe you.

Remember, you don’t have to give traditional presents to make people special. There are still many ways to connect with your loved ones and give unique and memorable gifts

Avoid budget-draining temptations

You’re being the best Santa you can be, adding glorious gift after glorious gift to your online shopping cart, when you spot an item that's ideal. For you. There’s nothing wrong with buying something special for yourself, but don’t let it derail your holiday budget. 

Shopping at the last minute generally results in overspending. Something that seems like a good deal on December 23 probably isn’t. Often, we go into panic mode if we’re rushed and impulsively grab whatever seems remotely suitable for someone, so try and give yourself enough time to shop without feeling stressed.

Don’t forget additional expenses

If you’re basing your holiday budget solely on gifts, you may be missing expenses. Are you having dinner with family and friends? You’ll be buying food. Did you order new decorations for your home? That counts as holiday spending. Also, remember to factor in any charitable donations you’re making.

Help your future self out

One simple way to grow your holiday spending money is by automating your savings. When you put your savings on autopilot, you never have to think about transferring money or finding extra cash in your budget. You could set up a recurring transfer from your chequing account to your savings account. You can even time that transfer with your paycheques, so that when you get paid, a certain amount is automatically transferred into your savings account.

You can also automate your savings with BIGChange. When you make a purchase, BIGChange automatically rounds up the amount and deposits the difference into your savings account. Our members save an average of $174 a year!

Budget, save and be merry

The holidays are a time to be with the people you love, not to wonder how long you’ll be paying for all this joy. By creating and sticking to a budget, you can reduce the anxiety and stress that comes with overspending. Instead, you'll be able to focus on the experiences you get to share with your loved ones.