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Plan Your Holiday Shopping To Avoid Debt

December is here! And the craziest shopping season of the year has accompanied this month, as it does annually. With the holidays soon upon us, it is expected for shopping malls to become crowded madhouses with just about everyone in town scurrying from store to store looking for the perfect gifts.

Even though Canadians have been hit hard with the recession this year, there is still reason to believe that those in the holiday spirit may still be out to spend big bucks on presents. Even when it is not within one’s price range, shoppers often find themselves in a situation where their credit card bills are overly huge by the turn of the year.

Today, the QMI Agency, through an article in the Toronto Sun, warned Canadians to be mindful of their spending during this holiday season. They report that January and February are typically the busiest months for debt collectors…and with good reason. Too often, holiday shoppers rack up bills larger than they can afford. Due to their out-of-control spending of the past, unmanageable debt becomes a big part of their future.

The article offers some advice as to how to manage your holiday spending, especially when using your credit card, so that your bills don’t get too robust. Keeping tabs on your expenditures and making notes of the dollar amounts spent on each gift from each store is a good start.

Laurie Campbell, executive director with Credit Canada had this to say: “I can’t tell you how many times I hear people says they didn’t realize what they were spending…If you are going to use credit, write down every expense. That way when the New Year comes around you are aware where the money went.”

Even with the struggling economy and job losses that have resulted from it, the holiday season is expected to remain the busiest time of year for retailers. Many consumers find it hard to sacrifice getting into the spirit for the benefit of their family and friends. Drowning in debt, however, is never a good way to celebrate this festive season.

The article also notes that recent statistics have shown that bankruptcies in Canada have increased dramatically in recent months. To avoid having these numbers continue to spike, it is highly recommended that planned spending becomes part of your holiday plans.

Says Nancy Marescotti, director card marketing, at BMO Bank of Montreal: “The best way to avoid post-holiday statement shock is to develop a realistic spending plan…Create your plan early in the season before you get too caught up in the excitement of buying gifts.”

Some things to avoid this holiday season include waiting for the last minute to do your shopping (which often leads to “panic buying”) and paying for extended warranties on items you don’t really need.

Shopping can be fun, and the holidays are supposed to be. Be smart. Plan ahead. Budget appropriately. And the joy of the season should last well into the new year.

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