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Anu Khullar - RE/MAX River City
282 Calgary Trail NW, Edmonton, Alberta
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - Control your debt load this holiday

With Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney wagging his finger like a modern-day Scrooge at free-spendin’, debt-accumulatin’ Canadians Monday, you might be feeling a little guilty heading to the mall for some extra non-denominational holiday gift-shopping on your work break.

Well, guiltier than usual anyway.

Luckily Sanjay Thakur with Queensbury Securities Inc., by way of the Chartered Accountants of Ontario, has come to the rescue with some advice for worried Canadian shoppers.

First, of course, is the preamble about the spirit of the holidays, inherent goodness of people, and all that good stuff.

“At this time of year, it bears remembering that the best gifts of all usually don’t cost much money. Volunteer, donate to charity, or help out a neighbour,” he said in a release. “Spend time with friends and family, and make the holidays about spending time together, and not spending yourself into debt.”

But for the rest of us heathen spenders, he’s got some helpful hints for keeping debt headaches to a minimum. Or at least to minimize that buyer’s remorse the next day:

1. “Have a spending plan”: Make a list and check it twice, or preferably at two or more stores. In other words, don’t pick up the first, and most expensive, thing you see. Shop around. Oh, and come up with a budget while you’re at it.

2. “Take advantage of today’s tools”: As Mr. Thakur points out, “Personal money-management software like Quicken or Microsoft Money can be invaluable when it comes to tracking spending and paying bills.” A good way to keep track of that budget of yours.

3. “Keep it simple”: Try to use one bank account for income, bills and expenses, and one credit card for non-cash purchases. It’s a lot easier to keep track of everything, and you may even get extra loyalty-plan points by consolidating.

4. “Know the cost of money”: Did you know credit cards charge interest? Try applying the 20% compounded interest rate on your projected spending budget. Shocked yet? Doesn’t seem like such a good idea to pay just the minimum now, does it?

5. “Gift cards often remain unused”: Mr. Thakur figures about 25% of all gift cards go unused a year after they are given. That’s a lot of cash down the drain.

6. “Have a savings plan”: Tuck some cash away in a savings account throughout the year, and there should be more than enough for your shopping needs. Sort of like putting cash aside for your kids’ college fund, but you spend it on ties and garish sweaters instead.

7. “Pay cash”: If you can’t trust yourself with borrowed money, then only spend what you have. “Carry cash or pay with your debit card. When the money’s gone, the shopping will stop,” Mr. Thakur said.


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posted in News at Wed, 15 Dec 2010 20:01:14 +0000

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