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How Can Canadians Save Money During the Holidays?


Let’s be honest: it’s hard to save money when the holiday season hits. However, we’re swiftly running out of disposable cash. But the pressures of the holidays have you wanting to spend on your friends and family. At the same time, it’s unwise to run up credit cards in this case.

Throw in a white elephant event at work and suddenly you’re spending money you don’t have.

How can savvy Canadians save money during this holiday season, especially at the last minute? Here are some tips from four experts of different backgrounds: a finance professor, a loan company, a financial advice website, and a credit score site.

Take this advice to heart, and your wallet won’t be quite as empty come New Year’s.

York University

Prof. Moshe Arve Milevsky - York University on how to save money

I think that one of the easiest ways to save some money over the holiday shopping season is to learn how to just say no to extended warranties, purchase protection plans, or any insurance policy covering small and trivial risks.

So, when you are at the store counter and about to check out with your shiny new XYZ, and the highly incentivized salesperson asks you: “Would you like to participate in our blah-blah program?” just say, “No, thank you.” Many companies earn higher margins from protection add-ons than they make from selling the actual item your purchased. And, since this really is a zero-sum game, save the money instead.

In fact, I would save the money in a separate (online, segregated) high-interest savings account and create my own personal insurance reserve fund. Then, if and when something breaks or needs to be replaced in your life, tap into your personal insurance reserve fund, which will grow over time as you continue to say “no.”

Why is “claiming” from yourself better? Well, it’s unlikely you have to wait on hold for hours, argue with a claims adjuster, or learn that the fine print didn’t really cover THAT happening.

In sum, use insurance for the considerable risks in your life and self insure the rest. Protect Responsibly. Happy Holidays.

Prof. Moshe Arye Milevsky


Cris Ravazzano - LoansCanada on how to save money

The majority of people you know are likely looking to save some money this holiday season. So speak up and start a conversation about cutting back. When it comes to money, we understand that many people like to keep it private, but the more conversations we have about it, the more we realize we all have the same struggles.

Make saving money during the holidays a family affair. Grandmothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, friends, cousins, siblings, you name it.

Get everyone involved. Have a secret Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone, have a potluck, wear last year’s outfit, skip purchasing gifts for the adults, or set a price limit for everyone to follow. Having everyone on the same page will make saving easier.

Cris Ravazzano


Elena Fernie - MoneySavvyMe on how to save money

My favourite way to save money during the holidays is by paying with discount gift cards. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find discount gift cards. To start with, be on the lookout for store promos. Sometimes stores will offer bonus loyalty points on gift card purchases.

Sometimes, they offer discounts on gift cards for their store and others!

If you’re a Costco member, take a few minutes to peruse the gift card section when you’re in the store. There are always great discounts to be found there. You can also buy gift cards at a discount on sites like Cardswap, and if you have a credit card that gives rewards, buy gift cards in the stores that you get the most rewards from! It’s amazing how quickly the savings add up when you use discount gift cards to do your shopping!

Elena Fernie

Marble Financial

Rich Elliott - Marble Financial on how to save money

The holiday season, that time of year for overindulgence, spending time with loved ones and usually spending way beyond your means. We understand that it’s tough to do the holidays cheap, but it looks like most Canadians can’t help themselves with credit card debt recently surpassing a record $100 billion!

Now, debt isn’t a funny business. The small snowball of the holiday season can quickly turn into an avalanche when paying it off. That’s why managing your finances during the holidays is vital, and here are five handy tips on how you can dodge a holiday debt snowball:

Make a realistic budget

You’d think setting a conservative budget is the way to go…wrong. No matter how organized you are, there are usually a few unexpected events.

For example, a last-minute Secret Santa or a relative you haven’t seen for five years is randomly in town for the holidays. These types of events can often get frustrating. They may even cause you to ditch your budget altogether.

If you take the proper time to sit down and think about every possible outcome and then add an extra 20% onto your budget, the holiday surprises will be under the tree and not in your bank account. Pro-tip: Carry cash once you have made your budget, and you’re ready to shop. This is an easy way to track how much you’ve spent and keeps your budget in order.

Start planning early

Having a holiday budget should always be on your mind. The sooner you start planning for it, the smaller your debt will become post-holidays.

Start bulking up your budget as early as possible by setting up a holiday savings account. You can set up small auto-deposits for each paycheque. This amasses plenty of saved-up cash come the holiday season. If you have a cash-back rewards service or credit card, think about putting that into this savings account too.

You’ll be surprised how quickly this can build and how less stressful your December will be. Pro-tip: Start a gift shortlist.

For example, if it’s March and your friend says how much they love a particular brand, note it down in a spreadsheet so that when it comes to holiday shopping, you’ll know what to get them. This also means you know what you’ll expect to spend and won’t be trapped by an overpriced gift they might not enjoy.

Give homemade gifts

Not all holiday events/parties require expensive gifts. Gifting something improvised shows that you’ve thought about the receiver and used the valuable time to make it. Items like personalized baking or custom jewelry will show your relationship’s value and save you some extra cash in the meantime.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have the confidence to make a 7-layer cake or a piece of pottery just yet, make it a new year’s resolution to do so. That gives you almost a whole year to fine-tune your new skills.

Cut costs at the dinner table

If you have a costly food bill on the horizon, consider finding ways to cut costs. For example, turkey is usually the most expensive item on the table. Try switching up with cheaper meat like ham. Or maybe load up on more side dishes so you can buy a smaller bird.

When grocery shopping, try to stay away from the fancy-looking platters. You’ll find buying the items locally and individually is not only cheaper, but you get a lot more food for your money. Pro-tip: Try a potluck-style dinner by asking your guests to add items to the table. Not only will this cut your overall costs, but it will also make your guest feel more included and part of the occasion.

Sell your unwanted stuff

When holiday bills stacking up, look around because you might be sitting on a gold mine. For example, that fancy coffee grinder you received for your birthday two years ago might be a $60 treasure collecting dust. Consider selling it online to get some extra cash in your pocket.

What’s there to lose? With plenty of quick and easy options like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Kijiji, you open up to thousands of local people ready to pick up your unwanted stuff. Pro-tip: Be open-minded. You’d be amazed by the different items you can sell, plus the amount of cash you can get for them.

As you can see, these are just a handful of tips to help you with this and future holiday seasons. Check out more money-saving tips on the Marble blog. You never know; it could also fuel some new resolutions in 2020!

Rich Elliott

Final Thoughts

The perfect gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Starting early and setting a budget are the cornerstones to saving for any occasion. If you can stick to a shopping list, even better. At the end of the day, products and services aren’t the point.

Enjoy your family and loved ones as much as you can, when you can. If you need help with your personal finances, contact a member of our team today.

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