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Dreaming of a Debt Free Holiday Season
Posted on by Andre Bolduc

Why only dream of being able to pay your holiday bills this year? Make being debt free a reality for you and your family this season by reining in your holiday spending. Move beyond the stress of having to buy gifts. Start new traditions with your loved ones. The holiday spirit is about giving to one another; going into debt was not supposed to be part of the equation.

Retailers are bombarding Canadians with reasons to spend more and more during the holiday season. Canada’s collective consumer debt, excluding mortgages, is more than $1.513 trillion and on an individual level, average household debt has increased 2.7 per cent to $20,891. Chances are good that consumer debt will continue to rise because of seasonal spending. Canadians need to consider lessening the amount of financial stress they are feeling in order to make the holidays the most wonderful time of year.

I.O.U.’s not accepted to pay debt:

Unfortunately, creditors do not accept excuses when you cannot pay your bills. Counting on a bonus that may or may not come your way, to pay for presents is another way of adding to your financial stress. Today, not all employers give holiday bonuses of cash to their employees.  In fact, of those employers surveyed 34 per cent are giving cash and 21 per cent are not doing anything at all for their employees.  Some companies will provide additional time off, a gift, or paid lunch to thank staff for their hard work during the year.  Just because you received cash in 2013 is no guarantee the bonus will be paid out again this year. 

2015 the year of money:

Expecting your huge salary increase in 2015 will be enough to cover your debt?  Think again!  The Conference Board of Canada estimates the average increase will be 2.9 per cent, just above inflation.  However, it is no guarantee you will be one of the lucky ones receiving an increase. And, if a salary increase does come your way, there is the possibility it will be less than the average.

Reining in spending and even lessening your debt load will help reduce your financial stress.  If you are one of the 51 per cent of Canadians who feel if a single paycheque is delayed your finances will be at risk, then managing the gift expectations of friends and family is even more important.

Stress-less, play more:

Allow yourself to stress less about debt and holiday bills by reducing your holiday spending. Then, apply what you would have spent to make an extra mortgage payment or to reduce the balance on a credit card. It is incredible how much better you will feel knowing some of the financial burden has been lifted. 

Next, create new, dollar-free ways to celebrate the holiday season. Speak with your family and friends to find out how you can play more together over the holidays. Pot luck meals, making memory books for each other, volunteering at a local food bank are ways of returning to the true spirit of giving at the holidays.