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Holiday Budgeting 101

December 5, 2018

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Another year has come and gone and it’s time to dust off our holiday budgeting blog! While the holidays can be a stressful time for many, let’s not forget what it’s really about – friends, family and spending time with the ones we love. In order to help you make the most of your holiday season, we’re bringing back our handy dandy holiday budgeting guide just for you. Check out our top tips, tricks and more below.


A recent survey done by Leger for the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) shows consumers plan to spend $675 on average on everything from gifts to travel to food and entertainment. While most surveyed said they hoped they would stick to their budgets, their intentions and actual holiday spending are sometimes different. So the real question is, where does it stop?

This brings us to the reason for this blog and why we are talking about holiday spending − to help you make the most of your hard-earned pay cheque this holiday season. To do so, we have gathered our top money-saving tips below:

Start Saving Early

As the study above suggests, Canadians are anticipating spending over $600 this holiday season, yet only about 39% of Canadians saved throughout the year in anticipation of these expenditures. If you start saving in January, even if it is only $50 per month, by December you will have $600 ready for holiday spending.

Buy Gifts Throughout the Year

If a savings account is not for you, try buying your gifts throughout the year so you are not leaving it to the last minute. This is a great way to buy gifts for your loved ones without having to deal with the financial burden that last minute spending can bring with it. If you choose this route, remember to pick your hiding spots wisely! If your children are anything like ours, they can smell presents from a mile away and will seek them out until found. For this reason, we recommend storing them at a friend’s or grand-parents’ house.

If you have read the first two tips and are feeling less than prepared, do not be discouraged, we have ways to help even the biggest holiday procrastinator. Although it is a little too late to start using the above methods for this year’s holiday season, if you create a plan today and use the rest of November wisely, you can minimize the spending pressure in December. All you need is a little creativity and some organization.

Create a Gift-giving List

Do not worry, we are not suggesting adding more work for you. All you have to do is click here to download the list we have already prepared for you. Now that you have got your gift-giving template, it is time to start filling it in.

Start with the who – who are you buying for this year? Is there anyone that does not need to be on the list? This might be the time to make some tough decisions in order to stick to your budget. Next comes the what – what are you buying each of the people on your list? Can you make it yourself or does it need to be bought? If it is the latter, then it is time to move to the main question – how much is it going to cost? This is the most important part of your gift-giving list, as it can mean the difference between staying on budget or ending up in the red zone come January. For this step we recommend heavy research. Look for sales or events that will help you save money − some of our favourites include Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you do not know what these are, look out for them at your local mall or favourite online store, because they are a great way to keep your shopping on budget.

Get Creative

If you are fortunate enough to have the creativity gene, you can get away with making your holiday gifts, rather than buying them. Homemade gifts are becoming more and more popular as the cost of retail goods skyrocket with each passing year. Furthermore, grandparents and other loved ones often value and appreciate a handmade gift from the ones they love. Rather than buying that foot massage machine for $150, opt for mason jar soups and cookies. If all else fails, Pinterest is packed with ideas for homemade gifts and many of them can be pulled off on even the most modest of budgets. Remember – it’s the thought that counts, not how much you spend!

Think Twice, Shop Once

We realize that not everyone has the time or creative ability to make homemade gifts and that sometimes buying new is simply inevitable. If this sounds like you, it is imperative to plan ahead and make as many bargain purchases as possible. Curious to know where we bargain hunt? Keep reading!

  1. The Flipp App
    We have mentioned the Flipp app in a few of our previous blog posts and for good reason. For those of you who do not know about Flipp, it is an awesome app that is free on Apple and Android devices. Simply type in what you are looking for and Flipp tells you where to find it on sale and for how much. This app even lets you create a shopping list so that you know exactly what stores you are headed to.
  2. Shop Online
    If you would rather stay cozy on the couch while doing your holiday shopping, head online to source out the best deals for the items you are looking for. We like Amazon for its prices, wide range of goods and quick shipping times; Etsy for its unique, handmade and vintage items; and when all else fails, Walmart for its overall low prices. Now sit back, relax, check those names off your list and wait for the delivery man to show up at your door.
  3. Dollar Store
    The dollar store can be a great place to find stocking stuffers. Dollar stores these days have really upped their game in terms of the quality of items for the price that you pay. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on expensive little items to put in your kids’ stockings, fill the toe with a mandarin orange and head to the dollar store for the rest. Your kids will not know the difference and they will be thrilled at the colourful variation of gifts they receive, not to mention the enormous chocolate bars that you only paid $1.25 for.

So there you have it – holiday shopping on the cheap. Remember that gift-giving is only a small part of the season and that the emphasis should be on spending quality, memorable time with your loved ones

Eat, drink and be merry – Happy Holidays from your friends at Smythe Insolvency.

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