November 27, 2018 2:30 pm

Edmonton finance expert’s tips on holiday spending

WATCH ABOVE: Shoppers were opening their wallets on Cyber Monday. Financial expert Freida Richer shares some tips on how to manage your money during the holidays and all year.

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Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day, it’s easy to get carried away with spending beyond your budget during this time of year.

Licensed insolvency trustee Freida Richer says with the average consumer debt at around $28,000, not including mortgage debt, it’s especially important for Edmontonians to be careful about their spending in November and December.

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“People need to take a bit of a reality check. Take a step back and ask yourself, ‘Can I really afford to be spending more money at this time? Am I a person that’s living paycheque to paycheque, have the interest rate hikes affected my household, such that there aren’t additional funds left over to be spending some more?'” Richer said.

READ MORE: In-store pick ups drive merging of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Adobe Analytics estimated this year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, with a spending forecast at around $8 billion.

Richer’s best advice for Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season is to “arm” yourself with a list and a budget.

“You can have the greatest bargain out there, [but] you lose the benefit of buying things at a deep discount if at the same time you’re adding things to your cart that weren’t originally on your radar,” Richer said.

“You just want to make sure that you give yourself that maximum spend and tell yourself, you’re not going over that today.”

READ MORE: Turning point? Canadians’ household debt load drops to two-year low

Richer also says it’s important to not make bad spending decisions because of the excitement surrounding events like Cyber Monday and Boxing Day.

“It’s that image of somebody in the crowd who stops, looks up at the sky and then everybody else stops and does the same thing,” the financial expert said.

“If you see people pulling items from the store shelf, don’t get caught in the frenzy if that wasn’t again on your list, within your budget.”

For those carrying significant debt, Richer recommends refocusing your priorities to pay down the debt as quickly as possible, which could mean making some lifestyle adjustments.

“Set financial goals that are measurable, that are achievable. Don’t wait until the new year to do that,” she said. “Sometimes people use that as a, ‘Well, I’ll do that next month or two months from now,’ but you need to think about those things now.”

READ MORE: Here’s what happens to $1K in credit card debt when you make only minimum payments

A TransUnion survey released in September indicated Alberta led the country in consumer non-mortgage debt at $37,278 during the second quarter of 2018, with Calgary even higher at $38,438. The national average was at $29,648.

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