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Holiday spending a big concern for families

Written by: Kaleido

December 1, 2016

It’s December, the first snow has fallen, the holiday frenzy is officially underway! And even though 80% of families worry about their holiday spending, the stores are still packed with parents spending hours hunting for something to make their kids and loved ones happy.

We took a survey recently and found that 40% of parents with young children expect to go $500 to $1,000 (further) into debt to cover their holiday spending this year. That's a hefty sum, especially if it doesn’t get paid off when the credit card statement arrives.

Why do we go into debt? Because we’re generous. And we don’t plan.

Parents this year estimate each of their kids will receive $500 worth of presents including gifts from relatives and friends. We find the same thing happening every year. Quebecers are very generous, and they live in the present. They want to do something nice—right here, right now—but plan ahead? Forget it, even though they know what’s coming and how steep the price is going to be.

Here, then, are a few tips for getting a handle on your holiday season spending:

1. Don’t feel pressured to measure up: Better a carefully chosen present that really means something than some pricy fad that ends up gathering dust. The festive season is about joy and celebration, not about spending big.

2. Spend what you can afford: Take the time to figure out what you actually have to spend. Here’s a simple trick: Go to the bank machine and take out some money. Figure out what might be nice gifts you can get with that amount, then pay cash. When the cash runs out, you’re done. It’s a surefire trick for not spending more than you have.

3. Have a gift exchange: Instead of getting something for every member of your family, have a gift exchange. Everyone draws a name (or two or three) to give presents to instead of having to get something for everyone. Everyone gives fewer gifts and spends less.

4. Try regifting: Finished a great book that’s still in good shape? Extra wine decanters cluttering up your cupboards? There’s nothing wrong with second-hand gifts. The point is to spread the joy.

5. Work holiday spending into your family budget: We can’t stress this enough—planning is the answer. OK maybe it’s a little late for 2016, but next year try setting aside a little each month. Come December you’ll have a nice little cushion ready to soften the blow.

Statistics for this article are from a CROP survey commissioned by Kaleido with a web panel of 1,000 Quebecers, October 12 to 17, 2016.