How are you spending this holiday season?

The holidays are fast approaching and I can’t help but think about the gathering of families and friends, the extra days away from work, the extra food, the extra gifts to buy, and of course the extra bills next month. For those last minute shoppers I thought I would share a few tips to make the holidays a little more financially friendly. 

Know what you are spending.

This first tip is from our locally grown, but nationally known, financial expert Kelley Keehn.  She recommends setting a Transactional Alert for your credit card that e-mails or texts you every time your credit card is used. It helps avoid fraud and increases your awareness of your own spending behaviours. Check with your bank for more information. @kelleykeehn on Twitter

Plan your spending.

Figure out ahead of time who you need to buy for, and what your budget is for that person, and stick with that plan.  To help you do this, create an envelope for everyone on your list. Put the amount you want to spend on each person into the envelope and when the money is gone shopping is done for that person.  To get ready for next year, start putting money in those envelopes each month leading up to Christmas.

Alternative gift giving.

This year my family decided to find a different way to think about gifts.  We have decided to focus on fun and family.  So, we decided to play the white elephant gift exchange. This should be a fun game Christmas morning – and will save everyone some serious cash.

If you are thinking about the perfect gift for a child in your life, consider a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).  It’s never too early to think about a child’s education. Your guide to RESPs.

Think beyond the holiday season.

Take some time this holiday season to think about your goals for the future.  Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has developed a Financial Goal Calculator that can help you work towards your financial goals; it may motivate you to think more proactively about your spending.

During the holiday people tend to spend more money than they should. Especially for families with low income, overspending can lead to future personal and financial challenges. Last week, Nancy Burns wrote a great blog about challenges people living in poverty face during the holidays. But we all need to be mindful of how we are spending our money, not only during the holiday, but year round to maximize the best use of our resources and minimize the risk of falling into poverty.

How are you spending this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.