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Personal finance

7 tips to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank

November 14, 2023

From gift-giving to parties, the holiday season can get expensive. While some people try to set aside funds for this time of year, it can be hard to stick to a budget. At the beginning of 2023, 38% of Canadians spent more than they had planned. For some, this meant carrying credit card debt until the spring.1 With a bit of advance planning, you can do your end-of-year shopping with zero financial stress and avoid useless debt.

1. Set your holiday budget as soon as possible

Include all your expenses, and not just for presents that end up under the tree. Will you be buying host or hostess gifts? How much will you be shelling out on food and drink? What about extra gas for car trips? Start to put money aside now instead of borrowing and making payments later. By setting a budget, you can stick to it and better determine how much you'll spend on each purchase.

To set a budget in line with your spending habits, look at previous holiday seasons. If you get your account statements online, you can check credit card statements going back 10 years.

2. Make a list of people you want to buy a gift for

Avoid the pressure to give a gift because you feel like you have to. Only give presents to people if it truly brings you joy. Have an open discussion with your friends and family about how you want to change your spending habits. Some people might be relieved and do the same!

3. Start holiday shopping early

The best deals aren't just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. By staying on top of it year-round, you'll know the regular prices of items so you can spot good deals like liquidation sales, end-of-season clear-outs or second-hand sales.

Did you see a hot deal online?

Be careful when you shop online. Here are a few tips to avoid online shopping traps and scams on buy-and-sell sites.

4. Give the gift of time and love

They say that time is money, but money can't buy you time! Overwhelmed parents would be delighted to receive a frozen meal to pop in the oven or a day off while you keep the kids entertained. Get even closer to your friends with a day out together or a gift you've crafted especially for them. These acts of love and caring are always appreciated no matter how much or how little you spend.

5. Take advantage of BONUSDOLLARS® or cash back

With Desjardins credit cards, you can take advantage of perks like BONUSDOLLARS® or cash back.

For every BONUSDOLLAR® you earn with your Desjardins2 credit card, you can redeem $1. Use these rewards to help pay for purchases or gift cards and earn more for next year. Here's how to redeem your BONUSDOLLARS.

Cash back deposited directly into your account reduces the amount owing on your credit card bill, so there's less to pay back on your purchases. It's a welcome gift!

Learn more details about our credit cards. You can find the right credit card according to how much you use it every year. Some products offer a higher cash back rate for certain categories like grocery and restaurants.

6. Check your credit card statement and pay it in full

Review your monthly statement to make sure all the transactions are legitimate. If you suspect fraud, let us know as soon as possible. The Zero Liability policy fully protects you in case of the fraudulent use of your card if you've complied with the terms of use.

Be sure to pay your card balance in full every month before the due date. If you only make a partial payment, you won't get a grace period, and interest will be calculated starting on the date of purchase. The interest could end up costing as much as the gift!

Activate alerts to avoid certain fees and simplify credit card management. For example, you can get an alert when the remaining credit on your card drops below a certain amount selected or when your credit card due date is approaching and you haven't made a payment. Reminders are helpful when there's so much to keep track of at this time of year.

7. Plan and save for next year

Practise these good habits in the new year and set a budget for next Christmas. Set up an automatic transfer and put away a small amount regularly (for example, each pay period or month) into a specific account. Your savings will grow effortlessly!

Plan how much to save now


*BONUSDOLLARS® is a registered trademark of the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec.

1 AD HOC, survey conducted by Ipsos. 2023. Holiday spending and debt, [online], Canada.

2 To learn which Desjardins credit cards offer BONUSDOLLARS® discover our credit cards.