A poll was conducted early this month across Canada with about 2,200 Canadians rating the amount of anxiety people experience due to Christmas shopping bills.
"The results of the poll are something that we see on a typical annual basis," explains MNP licensed insolvency trustee Brad Milne. "We can be lured in by Black Friday deals, and not planning ahead with our shopping. So, you end up with paying for things on credit, not thinking about the interest that you're paying on that credit."
He says people pay on their credit while failing to realize interest is also being paid, making the sticker price significantly lower than the actual cost when you factor in the interest amounts over time.
Milne says he personally assesses people with financial difficulties daily, and notes the anxiety people face over holiday spending, and over-spending in general, seems to be an insurmountable feeling. He notes debt seems to remain, while it's only interest that's actually being paid off. This leaves the principle balance at about the same level, with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel. Milne adds that causes anxiety.
He recommends those who have this anxious feeling to sit down and look at their budgets, and set a plan in motion to diminish that debt. Milne says we should think about the areas where we can cut expenses or reduce them, and in the long run, try to sacrifice certain areas. He says, for example, not spending as much on entertainment or dining out, could bring savings that can make more progress toward holiday bills or credit cards.
MNP has a gift guide that proposes the concept of a gift from the heart is perhaps more meaningful than a gift purchased from a store. For example, Milne says, his grandfather is making a barn for a child. Home-made gifts like that, made by a person with some carpentry skills, could make a great present for a grandson. Other can bake. Sometimes, he says, those kinds of gifts are more meaningful. Milne says others can donate time volunteering. But ultimately, spending time with family is one of the nicest things at this time of year. He notes, as we get older, gift-giving is not always so important.
Milne adds, in general, as far as holiday spending is concerned, people can give thought to planning ahead, and setting a spending limit. Give a gift from the heart that is home--made. and pay without credit whenever possible to avoid interest charges,. Compare prices online before you go shopping.
"I conduct assessment of individuals with financial difficulty on a daily basis, and the anxiety that people feel over holiday spending, and over-spending in general, is just a feeling that it's an insurmountable task to service the debt. You may be just servicing the interest."