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The New Year is fast approaching – and it’s a great opportunity to take some time to think about what you would like to accomplish in 2014. If getting your finances back on track is on your list for the year, take this opportunity to drop by and see one of our counsellors.

We are available today and tomorrow –

Monday December 30th  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday December 31st 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Shopping for Christmas?

For many people, a Christmas shopping budget consists of whatever they can spare in the last months before the holiday. However, to have a truly magnificent Christmas, you really need to budget throughout the year. You will find the holiday season much less stressful, and you will find that you’re able to afford gifts that will bring a smile to everyone’s face. To help you stay within your budget this holiday season, here are a few simple tips:

Incorporate your spending into your monthly budget
By incorporating your Christmas spending into your monthly budget, you are essentially making that money untouchable. Treat it exactly as you would credit card fees; only instead of paying for past spending, you are paying for what you will spend in the future. Before long, your Christmas spending money will just become another part of your monthly budget.

Set aside a budget
Your Christmas budget is a little different than regular payments in that you will have to calculate what you need, given the time you have to save. Be realistic with your budget, and try to aim for saving enough to buy the items you need throughout the year. When you have spare cash that isn’t allocated to your budget, make a point of picking up cheaper items while you can afford to.

Allocate smartly
If you need to buy gifts for ten people, do not work under the assumption that each gift will cost the same. Gifts for smaller children do not cost as much as gifts for teenagers, for instance. Don’t forget that you will need to buy food and drink over the Christmas season, so make sure to incorporate those costs into your budget, too.

Give yourself plenty of time to do your research
There is no point blindly choosing an amount to save each month, only to find that you have woefully under-budgeted. Do your homework, before you sit down to work out your budget, and you will have a realistic monthly figure to aim for. Some clever detective work will help you determine what’s on everyone’s Christmas list.

Don’t forget to download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner to help you through the holiday season.

Have a Debt Free Christmas This Year

We can all relate to how frustrating it can be to start a new year with last year’s Christmas bills.  With Christmas being only a few more weeks away, we can be prepared for shopping season by planning ahead and creating a budget to work off of.

Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget this Christmas:

  1. Create a Budget – if you shop without a list, it is easy to overspend or give in to impulse shopping.  Download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner that can help you get organized.
  2. Comparison Shop – starting Christmas shopping early also means you have more time to shop around and check prices at different stores.  Many online stores offer discounted prices or one day only sales.
  3. DIY Gifts- there are many gifts that you can make to give as gifts that won’t break your budget. You can tailor the gifts to the person you’re making it for – all the more thoughtful!

Careful planning can help you debt free – you just need to invest some time now to get organized.

Holiday Gift Budget Planner

Knowing how much money you have for shopping is one thing, being able to allocate where that money goes, when contemplating your holiday shopping is something else. That’s where a planner can help.

Start with a general statement of how much money you will spend. Or rather your limit, such as: “I will spend NO MORE than _____________ amount of money on Christmas.” Then you may want to allot different amounts of money for different categories such as gifts, food, decorations, other entertainment, etc.

Once you’ve decided how much you will spend on gifts you can create a list of gift recipients.
This can be tricky; do you give a gift to each person in your sister’s family or do you give a “family” gift? Or, maybe you give a “group” gift just to the kids and individual gifts to the adults. Whatever you decide, while taking your budget into consideration, it’s a good idea to write it down so you don’t get side-tracked while shopping.

Once you’ve decided the “who” on your gift list, you need to decide the “what.” Here’s where you pull out that hidden wish list you’ve written on every time you’ve heard someone say they “like” something or “want” something—right? The ongoing list notwithstanding, you’ll need to brainstorm ideas and maybe come right out and ask your gift recipients what they would like.

Then it’s on to the “where” can these items be found. List stores and their locations; don’t forget online options and the actual shopping begins.

You might also want to include on your Planner a space to write where the items you have bought are “hidden.” This is especially important if you tend to shop for gifts all year. You don’t want to forget where that special gift is stored and buy duplicate items in December.

Feel free to download and use our Holiday Gift Budget Planner. Keeping lists of recipients and ideas together will make your Christmas shopping easier, fun and budget “friendly.”