A step-by-step guide to shopping for the festive holidays on a budget

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A step-by-step guide to festive shopping on a budgetShopping for the festive holidays begins earlier and earlier every year and is usually marked by the end of Thanksgiving and Halloween.

Canadians are now taking advantage of the American post-Thanksgiving tradition known as Black Friday and the subsequent Cyber Monday. More Canadian retailers are offering the same incredible discounts as the US on this day in November, making it the ideal time to cash in on some holiday savings. Cyber Monday offers you the same discounts but through online shopping and is a method of gift-buying that is becoming more and more popular.

Before you tackle your festive shopping, there are a few measures you can take to save yourself time and money.

1. Set a budget for the holiday festivities

Spending with no budget will get you into debt problems very quickly and you could be paying off your holiday bills well into the summer months. Write down the names of everybody on your holiday wish list and assign a dollar amount to each. After you tally the total of your wish list spending, make adjustments until you come up with the figure you know you can reasonably afford to spend.

2. Make a festive shopping list

Creating a shopping list is a helpful way to avoid impulse buying. Not only does it cut down on the time you spend searching for that perfect gift, it takes the stress out of forgetting something or somebody on your list.

3. Pay cash for festive gifts

Everybody likes to splurge at this time of year. Once you’ve settled on how much money you have to spend, head to the store with only cash or your debit card in your pocket. It will help to keep your spending in check and you won’t have any debt to pay in the New Year.

4. Shop early for holiday gift items

Take advantage of the huge discounts in November with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but stick within your budget. Stock up on items like wrapping paper and cards in the January sales, and keep an eye out all year round for great deals.

5. Get creative this holiday season

Everybody is on a budget and feeling the pinch at this time of year. Talk to your friends and loved ones and consider cheap and creative ways to show them you care. For example, you could spend some quality time together, go for a coffee, or out to the movies, or to a concert. It’s all a matter of taste, but gift-giving doesn’t always have to be come wrapped up in a pretty box.

6. Share the cost of the festivities

Nobody expects to you tackle the festive feast all by yourself. Get your dinner guests involved and ask them to bring their favourite dish. You share the cost, but also some great new recipe ideas.

7. Keep it healthy this holiday season

Entertaining the kids with outdoor activities like skating and hiking will help you stay on budget, while keeping you fit. Check your local library and community centre to see what activities they have planned for over the holidays.

Keeping your family finances in check over the holidays will alleviate stress during this period and well into the New Year. Once you develop healthy spending habits, it will become second nature and everybody will look forward to the creative ideas you come up with next year.

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