Start planning now for a debt-free Christmas

It is more likely that you are planning your summer vacation than having started your Christmas shopping — but by getting going right now on some early Yule holiday financial planning, you can give yourself the gift of a debt-free Christmas.

It is more likely that you are planning your summer vacation than having started your Christmas shopping — but by getting going right now on some early Yule holiday financial planning, you can give yourself the gift of a debt-free Christmas.

The best Christmas buying strategy is to ‘afford as you go.’ That way, you won’t use credit for your purchases or face any big, long-term, high-interest bills next year. But where will your ‘extra’ cash come from? The key is to set it aside before it gets chewed up in the cost of daily living.

Pay yourself first. When you set aside a portion of your weekly or monthly pay as soon as you get it, you won’t run out and spend it, and your Christmas gift nest egg will grow steadily. You can pay yourself first by saving a fixed-dollar amount or a percentage of your income – say, three per cent — each pay period. Just choose the amount you can most comfortably afford.

Get the best growth for your savings. A low-interest bank account is not a good place to park your savings. Yes, you can make it easy to save by arranging to have your weekly or monthly pay yourself first dollars automatically deposited into a dedicated savings account – but as soon as your savings start to build, move some into investments that generate higher rates of return, such as:

Money Market Mutual Funds that earn competitive returns and can usually be redeemed in a matter of days and, depending on the fund, may even allow chequing privileges.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) or Term Deposits can be a good choice when saving for purchases – like Christmas presents – that are months away and you can commit your cash for a longer term. With these investments, you lock your money in for a fixed term in return for a higher interest rate.

Government Savings Bonds are often cashable at any time but can be purchased only within a limited time each year. Your employer may offer an automatic purchase program for Government Savings Bonds.

Save long before the Christmas season, and you will reduce the cost of your Christmas gifts, without looking like a Grinch, by taking advantage of off-season markdowns or sales as they happen and by paying in cash. That helps you avoid the Christmas rush when the spirit of the season can overtake reason and push you to the more expensive alternatives.

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Starthcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Numerous Comox Valley projects get CERIP grants

Numerous Comox Valley projects have received grants through the Community Economic Recovery… Continue reading

Thrifty Foods. (Black Press file photo)
Thrifty Foods confirms staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Courtenay

The company currently lists 12 stores within B.C. with confirmed cases

Comox Valley Schools’ distance learning program, Navigate (NIDES), which saw some large gains in enrolment this year, could see a return to normal numbers come September. Image, screenshot
Comox Valley Schools expects enrolment drop come fall

Decline projected online, as more students return to ‘bricks-and-mortar’ classes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Most Read