Survive holiday spending without sacrificing investment savings
By ATB Financial 12 March 2019 4 min read
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also one of the most expensive times of the year.
While you’re busy checking everyone off your Christmas gift list, buying decorations, hosting Christmas parties, preparing holiday feasts, going out for festive dinners and maybe even treating yourself to a gift or two…your credit card bill is racking up.
How can you stay out of that holiday debt and continue to save for your future? Here are some tips to help you survive holiday spending without sacrificing your investment savings.
Make a holiday budget and stick to it
Make a list of people you want to buy for this holiday season and create a budget for that list. You can budget per person or a total amount overall. Creating a budget for the entire list, instead of just specific people, will allow a little more flexibility. This way, if someone’s gift costs a little more, you can adjust and save on another person’s present. Remember that Christmas is about expressing love and appreciation for the people in your life, and both of those things can be done without overspending or going into debt.
Your holiday budget should also include any travel costs, hosting expenses and charitable donations, and it should be reasonable compared to your income and your other expenses for daily living. Make sure it includes your living expenses, any debt payments and your investment contributions. You shouldn’t skip paying a bill or contributing to your investment savings plan in order to afford more expensive Christmas presents.
If you have several nieces and nephews, or many different family members, consider doing a Secret Santa gift exchange rather than purchasing individual gifts for everyone. In this way, everyone receives a gift while enjoying each other’s company.
Start saving January 1
If this year’s holiday spending has taken you by surprise, be better prepared next year by starting to save up for next year’s holiday season in January. This will help relieve some of that pressure as December rolls around. Consider how much extra money you can put aside each month, considering your income and expenses, and start saving. For example, if you save $75 a month, you will have $825 by next December to help pay for all of those Christmas expenses. A well-planned holiday savings plan can help you avoid debt completely and it won’t affect your daily living expenses or your regular investment contributions.
If you plan on traveling over the holiday season, you should consider saving a little more than average. This will ensure you have enough to enjoy your trip without having to worry about paying off debt when you return home.
Fully commit to your investment plan
You should have an investment plan that you can stick to. When the threat of overspending and holiday debt looms, having pre-authorized contributions (PACs) can make sure you stay the course.
What is a PAC?
A PAC is a recurring automatic withdrawal that transfers a pre-specified amount of money from your bank account and puts it in an investment or savings account, such as an RRSP or TFSA. You can schedule PACs in a variety of ways, such as weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly, and you get to pick the amount of money you want to move.
PACs are the easiest way to develop good saving habits. You can schedule your PACs for the same day you get paid. This way, the money will be directed to your savings before you even notice it’s gone. You will get used to living without that money and won’t really have to worry about accommodating your investment contributions in your budget.
Speaking with a financial specialist can help you learn how to utilize your PACs to maximize your savings.
If you’re in trouble, ask for help
If your family is experiencing a job loss, illness or other difficulty, there are people and organizations that can help you get through the holiday season. Make an appointment with your financial advisor. They can offer professional advice on how you can adjust your budget to help you better manage through a challenging time.
There are also a number of community resources and organizations that offer aid to those in need, not only during the holidays but year-round. Alberta Supports will help you find and apply for family and social support programs. You can also connect with your local food bank and Christmas hamper to help make this holiday season a little brighter for your family. Do not be hesitant to reach out to these agencies if you are in need. That’s why they’re there.
Get professional financial advice.
Whether you want advice on how you can arrange your savings plan to accommodate your holiday savings and budget, or would like to start an investment portfolio for the first time, connecting with an experienced financial specialist is the best place to start. Find an ATB Branch near you.