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Preparing your Budget for the Holiday Season – plus, share your tips for a chance to win!

Christmas piggy bank


With the holiday season a little more than a month away, we’re all looking forward to the wonderful time with friends and family, good food and drink, and gift-giving. When you get caught up in the holiday spirit, however, it’s easy to overspend and end up with some debt you aren’t prepared to handle. Use these tips to prepare your budget ahead of time and you may even come out of the holidays with more money in your savings account than you have right now!


Save for holiday shopping

If there’s an upside to holiday expenses, it’s that you know they’re coming at the same time each year. Saving for the holidays should be a year-long commitment, putting aside a small portion of your monthly budget for gift-giving in December.


Make a list and check it twice

Before you set out to do your holiday shopping, write down a list of all the people for whom you plan to buy gifts. Next to each name, write down what you want to buy for them, and how much you plan to spend. This will give you a clear idea ahead of time of how many gifts you need to purchase and how much you’ll need to spend.


Say no to impulse buys

Once you have your list, make sure to stick to it. That means curbing your impulse spending on great deals that you might see when you’re in the store. If you realize that you’ve forgotten someone and need to add them to the list, adjust the amounts you spend on others to keep the same total.


Use credit only when you have to

One good way to make sure that you only spend what you’ve allotted for gifts on your list, and to avoid any debt at the end of the holiday season, is to pay in person and in cash whenever possible. Take out enough cash to cover the gifts on your list, and when the money is gone, quit shopping. Online shopping can also be risky, as it’s often hard to keep track of how much you’ve spent when the money isn’t physically leaving your hand.


Use rewards

Holiday season is a great time to start redeeming your loyalty and rewards points that you’ve been saving up for a while. If you have points at a specific retailer, try to do as much of your holiday shopping at that retailer as you can. Even if it’s just a discount on groceries, loyalty and rewards points can go a long way when it comes to entertaining and gift-giving this season.


Get creative with handmade gifts

Not every gift needs to be purchased. Some great gifts can be hand-made, especially if the recipient is someone close to you who would appreciate a personal touch. There are millions of fantastic ideas out there on the internet – just start searching!


Send it to savings

If your bargain shopping and loyalty rewards lead you to come in under budget, send the rest of that money to straight to savings! If you’re thinking about spending that extra budget on yourself, remember that the holiday season isn’t only about giving gifts, but receiving them as well, and plenty will be coming your way.



Now it’s your turn: Share your tips how you prepare your budget for the holiday season in the comments section below and you could win a $100.00 3V VISA Prepaid Voucher.

Read the official contest rules here.


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{ 42 comments… add one }

  • Anita Jim December 18, 2015, 9:43 pm

    We have bought some Christmas pattern cloth that was on sale, and made reusable gift bags.

  • Mary Tortorici December 18, 2015, 4:02 pm

    This year I took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and shopped on line for gifts. Not only did they deliver for free, everything came fast and to my door, I saved time, money and aggravation! Everyone should try it!

  • Holly December 18, 2015, 3:24 pm

    I thought they wanted energy saving tips? We keep the thermostat at 19 when we are home, 18 at night & while out of the house (you can go lower if you don’t have pets). We wash everything except linens, towels, & undergarments in cold water. We wash our hands in cold water, it sucks in the winter but you save money. We flush the toilet less often as well. We pay less on our utilities because of this.

  • T Catherwood December 18, 2015, 12:14 pm

    To save this year we have done a lot of online shopping to save time but also to save on wear and tear and fuel for our vehicles. This way we are not running all over the city to find the best deals, we can do it from home! Also as an added bonus we eat at home instead of eating out at restaurants, which is what we would have to do while shopping for all the gifts we would need. That process is very time consuming and stressful.

  • Rennie Ladan December 18, 2015, 12:08 pm

    We have been using a Christmas budget for years now. We also have a savings account set up for Christmas expenses so the money is there when we need it.

  • Sheena Bhola December 18, 2015, 10:00 am

    I have used many gift cards given to me this year and decided to use those for Xmas shopping vs using those gift cards on my spending . I have also used points earned on credit cards to bring down the groceries total at checkout .

  • Floriana VS December 18, 2015, 9:36 am

    I am on a tight budget and always look for ways to save and conserve. I keep my house cool and make sure the heat is turned right down to 17 when I am not home. This year I am making most of the Christmas gifts I am giving. I am gifting baked goods, crocheted disclothes and homemade Christmas ornaments.

  • Mike Jackson December 18, 2015, 9:25 am

    We set a family budget for gifts and try to shop early. When you rush to buy over the last couple of days you always spend more because you want to get it done. We set the thermostat for lower and night and when we are at work or away.

  • Hillary Snoek December 18, 2015, 8:09 am

    With all the gatherings and parties during the holiday season, picking up host/hostess gifts for all of them can add up! Instead, my family makes big batches of cookies and squares at the start of December; then we put them into decorative tins and into the freezer until needed. Not only do we save money on gifts, but recipients always appreciate the homemade goodies!

  • kataline balogh December 18, 2015, 7:59 am

    To save for the holidays , I start buying Christmas gifts , accessories etc. from Boxing day on , I shop through out the year for sale items for gifts for the coming Christmas
    and just hide them . I also save all my points from everyone and use them at Christmas to help me buy the extra stocking presents , chocolate and candies and fruit

  • Natalie Robillard December 18, 2015, 5:05 am

    Instead of making the entire Christmas dinner, have your guest bring something to help lower the cost of food by making it a potluck dinner.

  • Barbara Mulvihill December 17, 2015, 11:07 pm

    It is not easy but I try to put at least five dollars a week in a small account. In December I have enough to give my two granddaughters and my daughter a $50.00 gift certificate for the Oshawa Mall so they can get what they want. Frances is 51, Deanna is 21 and Paige is 18. This is much easier than trying to get something for them. it works out beautifully. I love them all and they know as I am a widow I do the best I can but it is done with love.

  • Leayen December 17, 2015, 9:08 pm

    You can knock some gifts off your list buying them during black Friday sales after America Thanksgiving. It’s killing two birds with one stones by also getting some shopping done early !

  • David Opper December 17, 2015, 8:42 pm

    Keep the temperature at night 18C or lower. Nothing more romantic than snuggling together under a big blanket!

  • Cheyna MacKenzie December 17, 2015, 8:25 pm

    We were constantly checking online to check out sale prices! We did a lot of our Christmas shopping on Black Friday. We also looked for coupons online to save a little extra cash! We tried our best to stick to our list!

  • Vicki lavender December 17, 2015, 8:18 pm

    We choose a charity and make a group donation.
    I make homemade gifts and share jams and condiments that I have made throughout the seasons.
    The season is one for sharing and gifts from the heart are the best.

  • Lindsay Jesson December 17, 2015, 8:16 pm

    We do secret Santa for the adults to cut down on gifts and give the opportunity to get someone something a little bigger. I also ship for sales I make my list in July and look for the items over a few months when sales are on it also allows me to buy a few gifts a month instead of all at once

  • Mark Barclay December 17, 2015, 7:03 pm

    The first thing i do to start saving for the holidays, is to service my gas furnace and wrap my a/c uint and make sure my windows are in good shape, i don’t buy gifts i host a big dinner for the hole family witch is over 20 ppl all fish. look for the best sales on line ….

  • Pollyanna December 17, 2015, 6:27 pm

    Give to your local food bank instead of buying gifts for all and sundry. Your giving will be their gift to those in need. Once a week, starting in January put a non-perishable item in a plastic bin. By Christmas 2016 there should be 52 items in the bin that will help make someone’s Christmas merry and bright.

  • Jackie Purchase December 1, 2015, 7:10 pm

    this year our family decided to do a secret Santa gift for the adults which is, we put everyone’s name in a hat and then picked one each ,you buy that person a gift for a specified amount that way we were all able to save and not stress as much. Although we are still doing stocking stuffers. Also we do a potluck meal which cuts down just one person doing all the work so we can all enjoy the day. we all also save on energy costs.

  • Christine Simard November 22, 2015, 9:29 pm

    Make a list of those you buy gifts for and how much you will spend. Put money aside for Christmas through the year from your pay such as $50 per pay and you will have the money you need.

  • Ann Graham November 22, 2015, 9:53 am

    Several people have listed my favourite technique. Whenever I see a ‘sale’ table, I check it out. If there is something that would be good for a person on my list, I buy it and put it into a plastic bin with a post-it note with the person’s name on it. In September, I check the bin and see who hasn’t been covered. It’s rare that I need to shop at this point, but I get it done early.

    The other thing is, many of my friends are older now, retired, and don’t need or want more ‘stuff’. I find out their favourite charity and make a donation in their name. This also helps me to stay in budget, because I give what I can afford and am not having to buy something outside my budget “because that’s what the person wants”.

  • colleen chilton November 22, 2015, 8:15 am

    for friends you might buy for suggest a potluck in leiu of gifts, everyone contributes
    and no gifts necessary.

  • C.Nelson November 20, 2015, 12:19 pm

    Vintage gifts are unique and often less expensive – a 1950s brooch from a thrift/charity shop for example, or a toy from an adult’s childhood such as a Fisher-Price dial telephone. It shows you know the person well and too the time to get something special.

  • Darlene Walker November 20, 2015, 11:27 am

    If you live a long distance from loved ones, take advantage of direct shipping of gifts. You can select items and have them shipped directly to gift recipients instead of you having to send items by Post or Courier at an additional cost.

  • Irene S. November 20, 2015, 11:12 am

    Have an agreement with the extended family that only the little ones get gifts. It works wonderfully. We all get together with no expectations, other than an enjoyable get together.

    • Rich Massingham December 3, 2015, 4:27 pm

      Congratulations Irene! You are this month’s winner in the Reliance Share and Win Contest. Please contact me at rmassingham@reliancecomfort.com to claim your prize! Kind regards. ~ Rich

  • Michelle Regan November 20, 2015, 9:59 am

    Make a list and internet shop for coupons and prices to plan your budget. Buy what is on you list and nothing more

  • don pelvin November 20, 2015, 12:56 am

    Don’t you hate those clumsy outdoor Christmas lights, with broken bulbs and clips, ladders to hang them from the eves and staples driven into your siding? DA DAH… Enter the lazer lights. One laser light will flood your home with about 1000 bright colourful lights. One Lamp !! I didn’t believe it either, but purchased one, plugged it in, and WOW… what a sight. $69.00 but vouchers available for $20 off at Bed Bath and Beyond. Be the only one on your block. Takes one minute to install, no ladders, one plug. Do it.

  • Kristy November 19, 2015, 11:12 pm

    If you have lots of friends or family members to buy for , maybe suggest secret Santa. Then make holiday cookies & treats for all the others! 😉

  • Melinda November 19, 2015, 10:33 pm

    Use DIY to your advantage. Make ornaments, and other decor. It adds a great warm touch to the holidays

  • Chelsie Syvertsen November 19, 2015, 10:27 pm

    Save up and shop all year … Look for stuff on sale!

    • Ann Graham November 22, 2015, 9:46 am

      Good one!

  • T Beaudry November 19, 2015, 9:05 pm

    Have a special “place” where you keep all your gifts so you can keep track of what you’ve bought and for whom. And you don’t accidently hide something and forget about it.

  • Barbara Hesch November 19, 2015, 9:05 pm

    I buy all year round allso end of season sales. Stores like TSC,CAN-TIRE,SHOPERS are great to get bargans for Xmas also for stocking stuffers.

  • Susan Hrushka November 19, 2015, 8:27 pm

    I turn my heat down to 17 degrees at night and 19 during the day. I also plastic off all my one pane windows.

    • Holly December 18, 2015, 3:29 pm

      See I thought it was about energy savings too. Good job 17 degrees!

  • Fadl Taleb November 19, 2015, 7:56 pm

    Thank you for your time and information that made us feel comfortable with your care.

  • Reza Movarekhi November 19, 2015, 7:08 pm

    Try to get things when on special

  • Kim McFarland November 19, 2015, 7:00 pm

    Prepay for outdoor Christmas planters through your local florist for appropriate out of town gifts and have them delivered a week or two before Christmas. Suitable for siblings, aunts, uncles, mom and dad or even friends.

  • Christine Cousins November 19, 2015, 6:34 pm

    I don’t just budget for the holidays – I budget all year round. Based on my yearly expenses I put the same amount of money on all of my utility bills each pay. That way I end up with a credit balance on those accounts so I don’t have to worry about a sudden big bill when the weather changes. That allows me to know how much I have to spend on holiday shopping.

  • Valerie St. Onge November 19, 2015, 8:25 am

    Shop for the holidays all year round. When there is a good sale buy then and you will not have to spend as much through the season and it will reduce dealing with the shopping crowds

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