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Three ways to approach financial stress during the holiday season

As we move into the holiday season and prepare to close out 2022, we at the Alberta Securities Commission wish you and yours a healthy and safe holidays and a happy new year.

As always, we are a resource for you. Whether you would like to strengthen your financial knowledge or learn about avoiding and reporting investment scams, the Alberta Securities Commission has free and unbiased resources on to empower you through every step of your investment journey. 

In the meantime, to help you make the best decisions for you this holiday season, we want to share a few tips to help you navigate your own financial well-being. 

1. Look for new ways to show you care

While buying things for friends and family may historically have been a prominent way to gift give during the holidays, it's certainly not the only way. From butter tarts to frozen casseroles, baking and preparing ready-to-eat meals is an economical gift that’s sure to please friends and family who have a sweet tooth or are too busy or tired to cook. Your best friend DID comment how much she loved your sourdough made with your famous starter named Clint Yeastwood; could you share a little jar of starter and some instructions?  If you’re a gift-giver who isn’t great in the kitchen, consider writing out a family recipe to share as a keepsake, or including a few heartfelt words in a holiday card. Handwritten notes are increasingly rare, and can be a thoughtful way to connect with friends and family. 

2. Develop a budget before you start shopping

Much like investing, attempting to holiday shop in stores or online without a plan can lead to bad gifts and, worse yet, unintended spending. When it comes to shopping without debt regret, start first by identifying who in your life really needs a purchased gift. Is there a way you can whittle that list down further? Once you have developed your list of gift recipients, try and set strict price limits on each gift and ensure it fits realistically into your budget.   If you’ve got small children on your gift list, perhaps consider ways to give gently used toys a second life by buying second-hand or swapping toys with a friend who has children the same age. Once you’ve got your plan and your budget ready, consider supporting local businesses and leave your credit cards at home.  

3. Don’t let big sale days throw you off course

Black Friday and Boxing Day sales can be a double threat to your budget. With massive sales on practically everything, businesses push hard to get you to dip into your savings for the latest tech toy or kitchen gadget so you don’t miss out. The best way to avoid unnecessary spending during the holidays is to pause before any purchase. Weigh it against your financial obligations. Does a new mixer sound as appealing as eliminating $500 from your credit card balance? If you need more motivation, use a Compound Interest Calculator to see how that $500 could grow over time. 

It's easy to get wrapped up in your historical spending habits over the holidays and the financial stress that comes afterwards, but by making a few tweaks to your normal routine you can enjoy the holiday season with loved ones and ensure that you enter the new year on a stronger footing.  If you would like more information on refining or creating a budget, check out our Know your budget calculator at  

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