Three upgrades to traditional holiday budgeting advice

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For many of us, the joyous highs of the holiday season are sometimes blunted by something less pleasant appearing under the tree once all the gifts are unwrapped: holiday debt.  

According to PricewaterhouseCooper's 2018 Canadian Holiday Outlook, Canadian consumers say they plan to spend an average of $1,563 this holiday season. And with more Canadians becoming self-employed or working contract to contract in the gig economy, an unpredictable or fluctuating income could mean added holiday financial stress.  

So, if you're worried about the amount of your credit card bill that will arrive in January after all that holiday spending, here are a few upgrades to more traditional tidbits of holiday budgeting advice that can help you could plan to budget your money around the holidays:

Good idea: Avoid impulse buying

Upgraded idea: Create a holistic holiday financial plan

Let's face it, from time to time, impulse shopping happens ("Duke the dog would look really cute in that Santa outfit…"), even to those who are mindful of their spending habits. Creating a financial plan that doesn't just account for gifts—but also factors in other holidays costs such as decorations, travel, parties you attend (or host), charity donations and gifts for colleagues, friends and family allows you to have a plan to expect the unexpected.

Your holiday financial plan should aim to include some wiggle room for those forgotten or unexpected expenses, such as a last-minute gift card for your child's teacher or an unexpected visit from a neighbour.

Need help sticking to your budget? Apps that track your spending, such as the TD MySpend app, can provide greater awareness of your purchases in real-time and help you track your spending.

Good idea: Not falling into holiday sale traps

Upgraded idea: Buying gifts throughout the year for people on your list

Maybe you excel under pressure and can power shop last minute better than most. But waiting to cross off all 18 people on your list while last minute bargain hunting during Black Friday or Cyber Monday may not be less expensive.

READ: Three simple tips to help you save on Black Friday bargains

When you shop matters, and sometimes the best discounts aren't found during the holiday season. For instance, linens, carpeting and fitness equipment—just in time for New Year's resolutions—are items that are often discounted in January. Bikes and lawn mowers for example, go on sale in September at the end of the summer.

Going forward, you might consider making time to sit down and plan for any gifting you plan to do over the next year to take advantage of these sales to save to put yourself in an even better position next holiday season.

Good idea: Doing online research to find the best deals

Upgraded idea: Factoring in the cost of delivery while shopping online

A majority of Canadians still consider in-store spending as their main holiday experience, but purchasing items at home from your laptop, mobile device or smart home technology is increasingly the norm, especially for 51 per cent of millennials  [link to PwC survey] who say they mainly buy online.  

Whether you purchase online or at the mall, going online to do some comparison shopping is good practice, but an even better idea is factoring in what the full cost may be on an online purchase once delivery charges are added.

Look for retailers that offer free shipping, and consider in-store pick-up and retailers who will ship items directly to your recipient.