Last week the Bank of Montreal released its annual Holiday Spending Outlook, a survey of how much money Canadians plan to spend this holiday season. The average spend on gifts, $674, is up around $100 from last year, and is just a portion of the $1,610 Canadians spend overall during the season. How can you keep costs and insanity levels down? 1. Turn off the Christmas music. 2. Plan ahead by following these simple tips:
• Start Early. It’s the most obvious advice, but you still have almost three weeks to get all your gifts before December. Then laugh as harried shoppers do battle in the streets and malls while you sip a Hot Toddy by the fire.
• Price Compare. It’s easier than ever to find competitive prices. Sometimes it’s as quick as an in-store Google. BMO also suggests that retailers are offering more competitive price matching programs, so if you want to buy something at a more conveniently located shop but find their prices too high, see if they’ll match.
• Online deals. In your haste to buy all the goodies in your virtual cart, do not neglect the promo code. Often, a five-second visit to Retailmenot will result in significant savings, especially with large retailers. If searching online for promo codes comes up empty, try a retailer’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, where they often post extra deals.
• Don’t forget the phone. If you start shopping well in advance, you’ll have time enough to call retailers and ask for the best deals. Where 99% of the world uses their phone solely for texting and Twitter, retailers still keep people in their employ to answer the phones and negotiate deals. Call them. They’re bored and lonely and eager to help you save money.
• Don’t fall prey to gift creep. Just because everyone and their mother got you a gift doesn’t mean you have to get everyone’s mother a gift.
• Make something. Skip the ‘I’m not crafty’ protestations and come up with something simple and easy and crowdplease-y that you can make for friends, acquaintances, dog walkers and bowling partners. This can be a packaged snack, a card, a small goldfish. Honestly, anything in a jar!
• Don’t rush. You’ll overspend and under-deliver. Start now, take your time, have fun!