Debit for a Debt-Free Holiday

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It's easy to get caught up in the shopping madness this time of year - especially with last minute sales and stores staying open longer. It's no wonder in the frenzy of trying to check off everyone on our gift lists many us  blow our budgets.

A simple way keep your spending in check is to use your Interac Debit card to make sure you aren't spending beyond your means. And, based on a recent Interac survey on Canadian shopping habits during the holiday season in 2009 and 2010, more of us are using debit as our method of payment during December. Some interesting stats from the survey include:

  • “Eat, drink and be merry” rings true for Canadian shoppers using their Interac Debit cards, with food and alcohol among their highest volume of purchases for the month. Supermarkets and stores selling alcohol remain in the top merchant categories for total volume in December 2010, consistent with the year prior.
  • Canadians also continue to be at their shopping best while under pressure. December 23rd was once again the biggest day for last minute purchases in 2010. It held the title for the month’s greatest amount of spend for in-store Interac Debit purchases, up 14.5 per cent from the same day in 2009.
  • Not surprisingly, the 23rd also marked the busiest shopping day with the highest number of in-store Interac Debit transactions (18.2 million last year, compared to 16.1 million in 2009).
“Canadians are busy people who value convenience and reliability when the season arrives for everything from stocking up on entertaining necessities to crossing those special gift items off their lists,” said Caroline Hubberstey, Director, Public and Government Affairs, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation. “Our data consistently shows a strong reliance of Canadians on Interac Debit and other products like Interac e-Transfer and Interac Online to manage their spending during what is often a hectic time of year.”

Paying with your money (by using your debit card) alleviates the stress of receiving a bill in the new year and allows you to stay within your budget. Setting a budget and sticking to it helps ease the stress of over-spending at this time of year, and 81% of Canadians have said that saving is a very important priority for them*. Online banking also allows cardholders to instantly track their purchases and remain within their budget – good news for those of us who want to start the new year without spending beyond our means.

I don't know about you, but I'll be choosing debit as my primary method of payment and definitely avoiding the stores on December 23rd this year.

What's your trick for staying on budget during the holiday madness?

* The Strategic Counsel, January 2011.

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