In my previous column, I shared some of Santa’s secrets for reining in your holiday financial spending and as promised, I have Mr. Claus back in part two of my article to provide a few additional money-related insights, tailored just for the yuletide.
All in the spirit of holiday fun, here are three more Santa-approved tips that will help ensure you enjoy the best of the festivities without financial stress. Heed these helpful suggestions from the jolly old sage to avoid being on his naughty list.
You better watch out… for fraudsters
By being extra vigilant, Santa has secured his treasure of toys from thieving Grinches every holiday season. Follow his example by not letting your guard down.
Remember that increased holiday shopping activity, both in malls and online, leads to greater opportunities for thieves and scammers to target unsuspecting people with financial fraud. To avoid being victimized, exercise extra caution.
For example, make sure you protect your PIN from view when making debit card payments and be alert for suspicious looking debit payment machines. When shopping online, type in the known URL for the merchant rather than clicking through a link and make sure the site is secure (it should have a padlocked icon in the address bar).
For a list of tricks fraudsters usually turn to during the holidays, Santa suggests you check out www.antifraudcentre.ca.
Travel by cost-friendly reindeer
Santa has to travel the globe to deliver all those presents and to reduce mileage costs, he selects the most cost-friendly reindeer (now you know one more reason why Rudolph made the list, apart from his glowing nose).
Similarly, think of ways to reduce travel costs, which remain the single highest source of holiday spending among Canadians. According to a recent bank study, Canadians plan to spend on average $677 on trips this holiday, higher than the $551 they intend to spend on gifts. Travel is of course an important part of the season as families and friends get together to celebrate.
But you can explore ways to reduce these costs. For example, instead of air travel, consider driving, or travel by bus or train, where possible. If you must fly, like Santa, shop around for the best deals and discounts. Carpooling with family and friends is always a good option, if feasible. You don’t need to make major changes to your plans, but you may be able to rein in some of your travel expenses.
Prepare all-year-long for next year
According to legend, Santa works all-year-long in his workshop preparing for the holidays. In the same vein, the best way to be financially ready for Christmas next year is to spend the next 12 months working on improving your financial situation.
Through sound planning backed by expert advice, you can be prepared for the financial demands not just of future holidays, but your future in general. That’s why one of the very best holiday gifts you can give to yourself is to start off the New Year with a financial plan to guide your ongoing money decisions. I encourage you to book an appointment with your credit union or bank to get started. And yes, even Santa would approve.
Kathy McGarrigle is Chief Operating Officer for Coast Capital Savings, Canada’s largest credit union by membership size.