To me as a credit counsellor, it is clear that when it comes to holiday spending we are most often our own worst enemies. Some of us for example leave the dreaded shopping trip until the last minute and hope for a combination of adrenalin and inspiration to get us through yet another season. Or, for some it takes a little “festive eggnog” for fortification before hitting the malls. The result is very often the adrenalin rush stresses us, the inspiration steps aside for spontaneity and the eggnog gives us a “glow” that is only temporary. In this state we are bound to spend more than we planned just to get the job done.

The answer

Start your shopping now – shop gradually take your leisure to look over the selection of gifts and compare prices. Just because it is “on sale” does not mean you have to buy…it all. Don’t worry about missing a sale as the big day draws closer everything is “on sale”.

Christmas money

If you are planning to go Christmas shopping – Where is the money coming from? Do you have any cash? Or are your credit cards working this year ready to become Santa’s little helpers.

With 44.1 million Visa and MasterCards in the market place in Canada, Santa will have plenty of helpers and those in the credit and debt industry are sure to have guaranteed job security come the New Year.

If you have already decided to finance your Christmas shopping at least look at the various options that are available. Retail credit cards such as The Brick, Sears, Zellers, HSBC all carry an interest rate of 28.8% so if you use these cards be sure to pay them back as quickly as possible. Visa and MasterCard have different rates for different customers – call the card company to find out if you have a preferred rate – read your credit statement it comes each month when you have made a purchase or owe money to the credit card holders. Do you know what the cost of borrowing the money is? Many companies have an unwritten policy – if you don’t ask for a lower rate they won’t give you one. So ask!

You may want to approach your bank for a line of credit or a consolidation loan – be careful if you decide to do this don’t use a line of credit and credit cards to go shopping use one or the other. You may find that purchasing on your credit card is convenient but expensive so then pay them off with your line of credit and do NOT use the cards again until the line of credit is paid off.

Do not use payday advance companies to pay for the holidays

If you are considering getting a payroll loan from an advance company to pay for Christmas shopping – I can assure you that you can almost count on the fact that you will still be paying for it next Christmas. Don’t do it - you will thank me for this advice later. Your friends and family do not want you bankrupt just to give them a “gift”. If you currently have a payday advance loan and are experiencing problems in dealing with it - contact our office, we will help you to regain control. By cancelling the Wage Assignment and getting the debt on a program you can become debt free.

Cash is king – Debit cards are queen

If at all possible - shop with cash, the psychological impact of pulling $20 - $50 cash out of your pocket is completely different than using plastic – even if that plastic is a debit card. But Debit cards are better than Credit Cards. Remember, especially at this time of year who is teaching your children money management – You are!

So this year use “Santa’s little helpers” sparingly.