Holiday Savings Tips by Canadas Top Personal Finance Bloggers

The Holidays are sneaking up on us and I wanted to find out from Canada’s Top Personal Finance Bloggers, their best tips for saving around the holidays:

keep a running tally of how much you’ve spent on gifts for each and every person you’re buying for. I used to find I was overspending on gifts because I was constantly underestimating how much I’d already spent on gifts when I was out shopping. Now I keep a notebook with me whenever I’m out holiday shopping. Everyone I’m buying for gets their own page in my notebook – I put their name at the top and how much I’m going to spend on them. Whenever I buy someone a gift I flip to their page in the notebook, write down what I bought, how much it was and how much money of their gift budget is left.—Country Girl - Cents of a Country Girl @centsofacg

In my experience, the number one reason Canadians spend too much money on Christmas is because of a lack of organization. I don’t know about you, but once I lose track of my spending, I tend to just start buying this and that and before I know it, I’m way over budget (with a good deal of it on my credit card). That’s why the main way I save money around Christmas is to set a budget in September. By setting a budget and starting to save for Christmas early, I’m forced to stay organized and truly plan out what I’m going to buy. This kind of deliberate and thoughtful planning helps me shop earlier, helps me get the most bang for my buck while shopping, and ensures I have the money available to take advantage of sales and deals. I blogged about this back in September in my post You Need to Start Saving For Christmas Now, on my blog, My Alternate Life. Since blogging about it, I’ve saved $30 weekly and those small but frequent contributions have added up to over $240 in my “Christmas Savings Account”.

There are lots of tips out there on how to take full advantage of sales, and how to save money on the holidays, but I think the best way to save money is to shop deliberately and only buy what I need. I think that’s the minimalist in me.—Jordann - My Alternate Life@myalternatlifeFacebook

Christmas can quickly get very expensive and while you may not be able to avoid some expenses at your house, one thing you can avoid is spending too much money on Christmas gifts. Read on her blog, Fun, Inexpensive Christmas Gifts You Can Make at Home.
- Sicorra Tackling our Debt@TacklingOurDebt

So, if you’re like me, you really, really, really like giving people presents. And if you’re a lot like me, you’re really, really, really into the pre-Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah time of year. While some people complain about how it’s too soon for Christmas carols in stores or lights being put up, pre-Christmas my favourite time of year!. Read on her blog, Fun, Inexpensive Christmas Gifts You Can Make at Home.
- Annabelle Shopping Detox@annhepburn

My best Holiday tip would be to plan ahead. Christmas isn’t an unexpected expense. It’s held the same day of the same month every single year. Putting some money aside throughout the year will give you the ability to get gifts when you see them – not when you’re running around racking up the charge card at the last minute. Having said that – if you’re looking for a frugal, or ‘Wow, am I broke’ gift idea – try giving your time as a present. Babysit for your friends with the newborn, once a month, so they can have a night out. Cut someone’s lawn all summer or shovel the snow all winter. Do something useful to make somebody else’s life easier or more enjoyable. It is a gift people will remember for a long time.- Brian Money Smart Students@monysmartstdnts

I’d say try to cut down the amount of people you exchange gifts with. Over the years, we’ve (husband and I) cut it down to basically the kids in my family and my parents. I stopped exchanging with friends years ago. Makes life easier and less stressful, and nobody is spending money they don’t have! Read on his blog, Saving for Christmas – 8 dollars a day – how to do it. - My Canuck Buck@mycanuckbuck

Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you have to buy everyone who’s ever said hello to you a gift. To save money, stick to buying gifts for close family only, and send everyone else a card or a season’s greetings email. And if you want to save on Christmas decorations, make sure not to skip out on any staff holiday parties! Read one of her posts, Saving for Christmas – 8 dollars a day – how to do it. - JessicaMo’ Money Mo’ Houses@momoneymohouses

Great idea to help people save during the holidays. I like giving books as presents, like maybe a personal finance book haha. They’re usually not expensive and it adds that personal touch. Secret Santa is fun too. Limiting the maximum price point is probably a good idea :0). - Freedom Thirty Five Blog@Liquid_Independ

Brian and I try to focus on living an intentional life – we don’t like to buy stuff we are not going to use, we don’t get too much food that we would waste it and we try to live as small as possible. With Christmas coming up, we will try to focus on giving gifts to those people who are important to us. It’s easy to feel obligated to give gifts to your co-workers, your extended family and the myriad of other people that you come into contact with on a daily basis – but that’s a surefire way to burn through your budget. Instead of being misled by feelings of obligation or expectation, focus on only giving gifts to those you want to give to, because gifts should be freely given. You’ll spend less money on gifts of obligation and you’ll feel better about the money you did spend. - CFThe Outlier Model@OutlierModel

My Best Tip would be to budget your Christmas expenses each month all year long and save it as a projected expense in a separate bank account.If you want to use the money along the way to buy gifts, wrapping paper, boxing day sales on Christmas items for next year you can do that as well. The key is to budget the money so you don’t put it on credit. Read one of his posts, Solving Spending Pressures Of The Holiday Season . - Mr. CBB Canadian Budget Binder@CanadianBudgetB

My best tip is also a fun game we play instead of buying gifts for Christmas. It’s called “crap from the basement”. No Joke! My wife and I used to host a Christmas party with our friends and everyone was finishing school and struggling with finances. So to take the pressure off, we came up with this idea that you would find the most terrible; embarrassing; tacky item from your basement and wrap it up in newspaper or flyers for a gift exchange. Not only is this a cheap gift idea, but it also helps you go through the basement at least once a year and realize stuff that must go. Some classic “Crappy Christmas” gifts from years past where a twenty year old Arnold Schwarzenegger body building book. ( Believe it or not, but the recipient already owned a copy! ). A broken cookie jar. etc. Someone gave a few rolls of hockey tape that was a real winner. Everyone was looking at that lucky guy wishing they were holding those bad boys instead of grandma’s collection of tea cozies! Its always a blast. - Derek – Freeat33@Freeat33

It’s easy to overspend at the holidays. Before you get caught up in the magic and buy, buy, buy consider the reality of 20% interest on that credit card bill. You don’t need to give a bigger and better gift then last year. No friend of family member wants you struggling with debt come January. Make a list and stick to it, and remember it’s only a deal if you need it! - Mandy – Money Master Mom

Whatever you do, do NOT wait until the last minute to buy gifts. This is horrible. You’ll end up spending money that you don’t have, stressing yourself out, and getting a gift that you’re not really proud of. I highly suggest that you start early so that you’re not stressing on December 24th about what to get everyone. You also have more time to budget and save up when you buy gifts in advance. We all know that money can be tight the closer we get to Christmas. Read one of his posts, Christmas gift ideas that don’t suck. - Martin Studenomics@studenomics

Profile imageAuthor: Steven Zussino on November 30th, 2012. Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog, CanadianPersonalFinance.com.

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