For many Canadians, this time of year is about apple pies, the leaves changing colour, and warmer layers due to falling temperatures. For others, snow is already on the ground and winter tires are a must for the roads. Wherever you live across the country, now’s the perfect time to plan your holiday shopping and how to stay within your budget.

First, you’ll want to create a list of people, items you’d like to give them, and your specific budget for each person. You can pair down your list by organizing a Secret Santa between friends or coworkers, meeting up for a meal or choosing a free activity like ice skating at a city park. Creative homemade and experiential gifts are also great low-to-no cost alternatives to gift-giving. Homemade photo frames, cookie kits, or coupons offering to shovel snow off a driveway can all be a fun way to show your appreciation for someone while keeping you within your budget.

For items like electronics, clothes, and toys, many Canadians are doing more of their shopping online, reducing their time at malls and other stores. If you go this route, it’s important to make sure you also stay cyber-safe. Make sure to use anti-virus software, create secure passwords, and avoid non-personal computers or public Wi-Fi networks when creating and using online accounts. Watch out for fake shopping apps, always use secure payment methods and keep passwords and PINs private, even from family members and friends. You should also regularly check bank and credit card statements for unauthorized purchases or withdrawals. Doing all of this will help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Some online retailers offer free shipping, while others charge Canadians extra shipping and customs fees. Check these before completing your purchase, as they can quickly add up and make it harder for you to stick to your budget.

Price-checking is another great way to help you stay within budget. Some retailers will offer to price-match if you spot a better deal at a competitor and show them proof of the difference through a printed flyer or an online listing. Shopping with cash can also help you stay within your budget by providing a visual reminder of how much you’ve set aside for each person and how much you have left. This method requires you to resist taking out your debit or credit card, but can be really effective at preventing overspending.

Credit card points and unused gift cards can also help you lower the cost of your holiday spending. Just make sure to budget for any additional taxes or remaining balances for these purchases.

Finally, resist the allure of buying unnecessary things on sale for yourself and people not on your list. An item you don’t need that’s heavily discounted is still an item you don’t need and something that doesn’t fit into your budget.


Have other tips for holiday shopping? Share with us below!

Karen Ho

Author Karen Ho

Karen K. Ho is a business, media and culture writer whose work has appeared in TIME, GQ, Refinery29, Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, and other publications. The avid traveller and theatre fan splits her time between Toronto and New York.

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