Agency: Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie & District

Topic: Avoid Overspending this Holiday Searson

Phone: 705-254-1424

Date: December, 1998


Keeping Away the Financial Grinch:

Credit Counselling Service offers tips to avoiding overspending

this holiday season


The holidays are rapidly approaching. Soon weíll be indulging in favourite seasonal rituals: decorating hearth and home, baking traditional treats, singing carols and corresponding with faraway friends. Then thereís that most popular holiday activity of them!

According to Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District, indulging in the last endeavour is what often lands consumers in financial trouble.

Itís easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and buy, buy, buy," says Greg Elsby, Executive Director, Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District. "But itís the Grinch who appears after January 1st when youíre facing a stack of bills you canít pay." Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District adds that holiday merry makers can best avoid the financial Grinch by shopping carefully and sticking to a spending plan.

To help consumers, Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District offers the following tips on preventing overspending:

ē Get a plan. You should develop a workable holiday budget. To do so, first list all holiday-related expenses, starting with the obvious gifts and decorations. However, remember items such as postage, extra meals, charitable donations and travel. Add up the total and compare with what you have available to spend. If itís more than you can afford, look for areas to trim expenses.

ē Evaluate your gift list. Your list should be limited to family and perhaps close friends, depending on your budget. For those you are unable to buy for, send a personal holiday card or note. Determine how much you want to spend on each person and keep in mind that some of the most thoughtful gifts cost next to nothing. For instance, give time or services such as babysitting or create a handcrafted instead of a store-bought item. Often these gifts can mean more to a recipient than on something which youíve spent a lot of money.


ē Shop smart. Never shop in a rush or under pressure because that can lead to overspending. With extra time, you can comparison shop and search for the best possible deal. Before you buy, take a "time-out" and ask yourself if the gift is appropriate for the recipient and within your spending limit.

ē Use credit wisely. Decide what items you will buy on credit and remember these tips:

1) Limit your credit purchases to one or two cards. 2) Try to use a card with the lowest interest rate. 3) Keep track of your credit purchases by writing them down and clipping your receipts together. 4) Monitor your credit purchase totals so you know how much you have charged. 5) Donít charge more than you can afford to repay within three months.

ē Donít tempt yourself. Sometimes we canít resist the "one extra little gift". But these small items often break our budget. Just staying away from the mall can keep you from making unnecessary purchases. Plan non-shopping related outings instead.


If you need help keeping away from the financial Grinch or developing a holiday budget, contact Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District offers (free/low cost) budget counselling and money management education.



"Helping you manage your debt" is a series of articles provided by member agencies of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services. All agencies provide a range of no or low cost services to help people solve their financial problems and improve their consumer and money management skills. For more information please contact Credit Counselling Services of Sault Ste. Marie & District, 298 Queen Street East, Suite 2, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, P6A 1Y7 or visit our website at