Financial Literacy

The holidays can spark joy and harmony in our hearts and can also drain our pocket books and energy. It’s possible to create a credit free Christmas but it’ll take a bit of planning and these five steps. Roll up your sleeves, get some paper out and a nice cup of hot chocolate and get in the spirit.

1. Decide how you want to feel after the holidays. Do you want to feel peaceful, energized, excited for a new year, or perhaps some other feeling? Now ask yourself – why is this important to me? Let’s be honest, if it’s not important to you, why bother? An example could be that I want to feel peaceful and energized and this is important to me because I want quality time with my family and friends, and I want to start the New Year with energy and excitement.

2. Decide what kind of holiday you would like to have. Would you like to have a low-key, chill kind of holiday? Or would you like to spend your time with lots of family and friends (and food!)? Or perhaps you would like to get away for the holidays. Share your thoughts with your family and make a decision that works for everyone. Taking about the holidays ahead of time puts everyone to the same page with no surprises.

3. Now that you know what kind of holiday you and your family would like, you need to create a budget for it. How much will this holiday cost? Take all holiday costs into consideration when building your budget including but not limited to gifts, food, baking, clothing, parties, decorations, events and activities, hostess gifts, wrapping paper, and anything else not listed here. Add up the estimated cost for everything and decide if this is doable. If it is and you have the money in savings, you’re ahead of the game! If it’s doable and you still need to put some money aside each payday, decide how much you need to set aside. And if it’s not doable, ask yourself and your family, what can be changed to ensure that it works without using credit.

4. Make a list of everything that needs to be purchased. Look for coupons, sales, and deals. Consider using your points to buy gift cards. Use cash! Credit tempts us to go over our budget and it’s not worth it for some points. Most importantly, once you’ve made a purchase, cross it off the list and don’t go back for more.

5. Let others help you (you know they offer every year) and enjoy the holiday. It may not be perfect but it’s not meant to be – holidays are meant for family and friends and good food, that’s it!

Some other ideas for a credit free Christmas include making as much as possible – gifts from the heart and hands are more meaningful anyway. Consider a gift exchange, a group gift, or gifts for just the kids.

Finally, keep in the front of your mind and heart how you want to feel during and afterwards. If something is interfering with feeling peaceful or loving, change it or change your perspective. It’s the only thing we have control over!

Submitted by: Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy, Credit Counselling Society

Stacy is the Director of Education and Community Awareness for the Credit Counselling Society. She has over 15 years of facilitation experience, and managed the Counselling department for 3 years.

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