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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


As the holidays get closer, the vast majority of Canadians plan to increase their holiday shopping this year.

Eighty-six per cent of Canadians say they will be in an extra generous mood this holiday season, according to a recent poll from The poll found that 45 per cent of Canadians will search for deals on Black Friday, 43 per cent plan to shop online on Cyber Monday and 53 per cent say they will take advantage of Boxing Day deals.

But this also means that many Canadians risk racking up thousands of dollars of debt. The last thing you want is a holiday debt hangover, so if you’re using credit cards to shop this season, consider paying them off within 30 to 60 days.

The poll also discovered Canadians plan to spend almost $200 more than last year on their holiday purchases, while 82 per cent said they will take some of their shopping online to avoid all of the crowds in the malls. That’s up from 76 per cent of Canadians who said they did a portion of their shopping online last year.

So what are Canadians shopping for? Here’s what found:

• Clothing and accessories (76 per cent)
• Electronics (61 per cent)
• Books (56 per cent)
• Toys (53 per cent)
• Health and beauty (52 per cent)
• Sports and exercise gear (31 per cent)

Here are a few strategies to keep your spending in check:

What’s your limit? Don’t head online or to the malls without creating a holiday budget. Also if you decide to use your credit card, make sure you only charge an amount you can pay off in a reasonable time.

How much is too much? This may sound a little tacky, however the truth of the matter is, you will spend more money on the ones you love the most. So create a shopping list and put dollar amounts beside each name. This will help you to stay on top of your budget.

Switch your plastic. Instead of doing your shopping with your credit card as your top choice, consider using your debit card. Or you can bring your budgeted amount in cash to the mall. Once you’re out of that amount, your holiday shopping spree ends.

The holiday season is not only be an expensive time of the year, it can also be an emotional and stressful time. According to Dr. Oren Amitay, there is the added pressure of living up to expectations. For some, this time of the year is not so much about the holidays, but the sudden reminder of the debt they are already in. Many people try to deny their debt by not opening their bills, and pushing the problem aside. But the holidays can highlight the debt that people are already in, and feed into fears that they could deepen their debt load in order to live up to the season’s expectations.

Finally, here are three tips to help you get through the holiday season:

  1. Set healthy boundaries. Talk to the people in your life and put limits on perceived expectations.
  2. Find a way of finding enjoyment/satisfaction that doesn't cost a lot of money.
  3. Be mindful this is a stressful season and cut yourself some slack.