Are you sticking to your vacation budget?

Do you jump every January when you get your holiday credit card statement? Then these tips are just right for you!

The holiday season is a good opportunity to get together with family, but also to get into debt. Between hearty and sumptuous meals, gifts, decorations, and festive outfits, there’s no shortage of ways to spend. These tips will help you get through this festive season without losing sight of your budget.

1. Keep a budget… and stick to it!

Lucie Dal Molin, budget consultant at ACEF de l’Est de Montréal, reminds us that creating a budget is the best possible way to stay in control of your spending. List all expenses related to the holiday season and the amounts you can spend on them by category. “There are several budget models on the Internet, for example on the ACEF pages,” she emphasizes. She adds that we should also keep it to take stock after the holidays and use it as a starting point for the following years.

2. Set an amount for gifts

Be realistic: It is not always financially possible to provide our loved ones with everything we want. Make a list of the people you want to give a gift to and how much you can spend on it. In some families we also agree in advance that we will only give gifts to children and not to adults. This can be a good way to limit costs. “Gift exchange – signing a single person’s name with a predetermined amount – is another cost-effective method,” says Lucie Dal Molin.

3. Leave your cards at home

Are you worried that you won’t be able to resist shopping and will spend more than you planned? In this case, leave your credit and debit cards at home and only take cash with you. Put the amounts intended for each category in different envelopes: food, gifts, clothing, etc. When the envelope is empty, we simply stop spending money.

4. Use your points

If you have a credit or debit card that has earned you points, now is a good time to redeem it for holiday gifts. Some credit cards have their own online store where you can also find gift cards.

5. Buy used

It’s not just new gifts that make you happy. “Don’t hesitate to buy used goods. On peer-to-peer resale sites like Marketplace, we find many toys in very good condition,” says Lucie Dal Molin, who points out that children won’t notice the difference.

And why invest a lot of money in a festive outfit that you will only wear a few times? You can find gently used evening dresses, suits and shoes at resale sites for a fraction of the price.

6. Recycle and replace decorations

It’s hard to resist the allure of new Christmas decorations in stores… Before you succumb, take a look at what you already own. Sometimes we are surprised at how many garlands, baubles and other Christmas decorations are lurking in our closets.

You could also organize an exchange with loved ones: your Christmas wreath might make a friend happy, while her artificial tree might make yours.

Show off your artistic talent by making your own decorations and getting the kids involved! Everything you need can be found at dollar stores and inspiration online.

7. Give the gift of time or homemade gifts

The purpose of the holidays is to see the people we love again. Spending time with loved ones and friends – for example, a day cooking traditional Christmas dishes, snowshoeing in the forest or a home cinema evening – is a good substitute for gifts.

“We can also offer babysitting and prepared meals for busy parents or a family activity for grandparents. Gifts [que l’on] Homemade projects, such as a photo album, are also very much appreciated,” says Lucie Dal Molin. Good ideas that cost almost nothing and warm hearts!

8. For cheaper holiday meals

The pot luck method has been proven to reduce the costs associated with holiday meals, but also to ease the burden of preparation on guests. For example, guests each bring a dish and a bottle of wine. The host, for his part, plans the aperitif, the dessert protocol, etc. The ingredients can be purchased and frozen several weeks in advance, if they are cheaper.

9. Get a head start for next year

Use this year’s expenses as a basis for better planning and set aside 12 months’ worth of amounts for the next holiday season. You can celebrate without going into debt or having to make sacrifices. Plus, if you buy gifts all year round, you’ll benefit from special sales periods and end-of-season discounts.

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