The Hub Budget-saving tips for a thrifty holiday season

Budget-saving tips for a thrifty holiday season

By: Laura Connor

Athabasca University financial expert shares advice to avoid breaking the bank this holiday season

The holidays can be a financially stressful time for many, and the rising costs of living are bringing those worries to new levels.  

According to a survey by Deloitte Canada, Canadians will be cutting their holiday spending by 11% this year, down to roughly $1,340 per shopper. Athabasca University (AU) professor of finance, Dr. Eric Wang, who was not involved in the study, said shoppers are motivated to find bargains this holiday season.  

“People started their holiday shopping earlier and are taking longer to make purchases,” explained Wang, professor of finance with AU’s Faculty of Business. “Shoppers are spending more time on the internet, searching for deals and discounts, and return policies.” 

With that in mind, we asked Wang for insight into how shoppers can stretch their dollars this holiday season. From financial planning to research to finding different ways to give gifts, he shares advice to ensure the season is as merry as possible.  

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What are common financial challenges people experience during the holidays?

We have a long tradition of Christmas and New Year’s. Everybody says this is the time for friends, family, and sharing. Everybody wants to show their kindness, and nobody wants to be the “Scrooge” of the season. There’s a great deal of peer pressure involved.

Dr. Eric Wang

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Are there groups that are hit hardest by the pressures of holiday spending?

Young parents are especially susceptible to overspending during the holidays. They cannot resist the wants of their children. They like to treat their children more than they like to buy things for themselves.

Also, if you have an elderly family member, you probably don’t see them often during the year. So, when you see them during the holidays, you may splurge to show how much they mean to you.

Lastly, to find job opportunities, younger people move as well as new immigrants often set out for the larger cities, making the housing costs especially high in cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. So those groups are especially harder hit during the holidays.

Dr. Eric Wang

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Are there certain groups of the population that do a better job of staying within budget?

The younger demographic, aged 18 to 34, are becoming more cognizant of the financial constraints. This is because they are often saving for their first home down payment and mortgage. So, these Canadians are more open to financial planning.

Dr. Eric Wang

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So how does one enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank?

It is up to you to really execute your personal financial plan. Financial advisors can help you get started and answer some questions, but they cannot answer all your questions as each of us has our own unique situation and planning demands.

Rather than starting with budgeting, start with an excel worksheet and get your hands dirty. Itemize all your expenses under categories: fixed, variable, and unexpected. It’s also equally important to monitor your holiday spending on a weekly basis. This way you can adapt it as you see fit.

Dr. Eric Wang

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Do you have any other advice for gift giving on a budget?

Gifting cash by e-transfer is another idea to consider because you will save on all the packaging and save on the cost of gifts that may go unused or take up space. An e-transfer also gives the receiver the liberty to spend the money on whatever they like.

Digital cards are another way to save money and reduce waste. And when receiving digital or traditional cards, you can digitize them and showcase them across your screen during holiday gatherings.

It would be nice to combine the e-transfer and digital card together.

Dr. Eric Wang

  • December 6, 2023
Guest Blog from:
Laura Connor