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Planning, communication can help B.C. residents beat financial stress over the holidays

Reducing stress around gifts includes creativity, thrift shopping, financial planning says expert
Reducing financial stress during the holidays is possible in a variety of ways, expert says. (Black Press Media file photo)

The holidays are here and with that often comes financial strain and the pressure to spend beyond one’s means.

Isaiah Chan, vice-president of programs and services at Credit Counselling Society, said that this time of year requires heightened communication with loved ones about finances.

Sitting down and talking with your loved ones about your financial world can be tough, said Chan.

“There’s an opportunity to take these conversations and help people find the true spirit of the season,” he said. “That might be a sore consolation for someone who is frustrated by their financial position, but it’s that silver lining that we try to help people see.”

Chan said that there are several ways to manage your budget around the holidays, such as creating a shopping list, figuring out a spending limit, making gifts, and thrift shopping.

“Especially when it comes to kids, they outgrow things so quickly and from my personal experience, kids don’t stress as much about having a brand new bike as much as they stress about just having a bike,” said Chan. Many second-hand stores have well-taken-care-of items that are much more affordable, if not totally free of cost, he added.

The Salvation Army also offers counselling through a program called Pathway of Hope for residents who want to rise out of poverty and set financial goals, said public and government affairs director Patricia Mamic.

“If people are really struggling we encourage them to reach out to us for an emergency voucher, especially if their housing has been compromised or if they’re having to choose between a meal or giving a gift,” said Mamic.

The Salvation Army is also able to provide shopping experiences for some families to choose what they want to give to their loved ones, an option that restores dignity and alleviates pressure, she said.

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