Countdown is on to Christmas – how to avoid holiday debt

WINNIPEG – Whether you choose to believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner.

When the clock turns midnight Tuesday morning there will be 100 days until December 25th.

“Every time I go shopping now, I have to buy a gift,” said Julia Barker, who tries to pick up a present every pay cheque in an effort to ease the financial stress of the holidays.

One of Canada’s big banks estimated Canadians spent an average of $1,800 last Christmas.

It can be a big chuck of money to spend at one time. The Credit Counselling Society suggests planning months in advance for the holidays can help eliminate going into debt come January.

“We work Christmas into every monthly budget right at the start, whether its January or June it is going to go in to the budget,” said Sandra Fry, with The Credit Counselling Society.

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She says, too often people budget for gifts but forget to include other costs associated with the holiday season, including groceries, cab fares and even babysitting.

Fry also suggests only paying for items using credit cards if you are confident you can pay it off within three months.

Most people will only see seven pay cheques before December 25th. If money is tight, Fry says have a conversation with family about setting gift limits.