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5 tips to help you take charge of your holiday spending

Avoid overspending and enjoy your holiday traditions with these tips to help you manage your money, no matter how you celebrate.

By ATB Financial 14 November 2023 3 min read

Whether your holiday traditions involve gathering around the menorah, the kinara, the Christmas tree or something all your own, we’ve gathered practical tips to manage your holiday spending.


1. Create a holiday budget and stick to it

Making a clear holiday budget minimizes the chance of overspending. First, make a list of all your purchases, including gifts (or gelt or zawadi), food, beverages, decorations, ceremonial items, travel and other holiday expenses. Then break down how much you can spend for each item. Once you’ve made a budget, check in after each holiday purchase to stay on track.

Make tracking your expenses simple with a budgeting tool. You can find plenty of apps on your phone or tablet.

Understanding your current cash flow (the money going in and out of your bank account) helps you make a holiday budget that works for you. Use this budget worksheet to give you a better understanding of what goes in and out of your bank account during the holidays and all year long.


2. Plan ahead for the holidays

Getting an early start on holiday preparations prevents last minute decisions, impulse buys and overspending. Identify what holiday purchases can be purchased ahead of time, and look out for sales that allow you to save.

You can also plan ahead by saving a little each month throughout the year to create a holiday fund. Then when your celebrations come, you’ll have savings to use for your holiday spending, instead of dipping into funds you need for regular expenses. You can set up an automatic transfer to come out of your chequing account into your savings account each month—check out our mobile or online banking tutorials for a set-by-step guide. 

If you know you’ll be getting a holiday bonus, make a plan ahead of time that breaks down how much to save, pay off debt and spend during the holidays. This way, your well-earned money is working for you. 


3. Set holiday gift price limits and expectations

If exchanging gifts is a custom for you, have a conversation with your family and friends about price limits and set clear expectations. If you have a large family or group of friends, you can draw names at random and purchase a more substantial gift for that one person.

If your traditions don’t prescribe a specific type of gift, explore creating handmade gifts to save money and add an extra layer of meaning. You can also look into supporting local businesses by buying gifts made in Alberta.

Support Alberta. Shop Local.

Learn how your spending impacts our province’s culture and community, and how you can save while shopping local.

4. Share the responsibility of holiday hosting

When it comes to hosting holiday celebrations or family gatherings, the costs can add up. Instead of taking on the entire holiday feast, ask family members if they can pitch in by assigning each person a dish or contribution to bring. You’ll be cutting down the cost and workload so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones.


5. Use credit wisely over the holidays

While celebrating the holidays can play a significant role in our cultural, religious and family heritages, the stress of paying back holiday debt can distract from your holiday’s meaning. Avoid high interest debt by only spending the money you have in your bank account. If you have to use your credit card, pay off your balance as soon as possible to reduce interest payments. 

Curious about the “shop now, pay later” options? While the payments are interest free, they charge a fee to set up the feature, and it’s added to each of your payments, making the overall amount you spend higher than if you paid in full. In contrast, if you choose to use a credit card, you’ll have 21 days interest free to work with.

Whatever your holiday season brings, we hope that it’s filled with rich tradition, new memories and time spent with those you love—financial-stress free. If you’re looking for ways to make your holiday plans possible, make an appointment at a branch near you. Our experts will lead you to options that can support you during the holidays and beyond. 

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