News Release Archive

The Department of Business and Consumer Services cautions
consumers to carefully budget their time and money to avoid
paying holiday bills long after the season ends.

"The holiday season is designed to be a joyful occasion, not
something that adds to our worries," said Business and Consumer
Services Minister Sandy Jolly. "It's often easy in the midst of
heightened advertising and the festive spirit to forget all about
budget limits and simply buy gift items without considering where
the money is going to come from to pay for them."

For consumers who are determined to avoid the trap of still
paying for Christmas in April, the department offers some helpful

-  Pay cash or use your debit card. It's much easier to get
   carried away if you use credit cards or your line of credit.

-  Think twice before skipping payments. Many financial
   institutions offer the opportunity for loan customers to skip
   a payment or will waive the December monthly payment for
   credit card holders. This is often done to encourage people to
   charge more purchases and run up an even higher debt.

-  Right-size your shopping list. This year, focus on the people
   you most want to give to. For instance, some people like to
   buy for all the children on their list and then exchange names
   for adult gifts. Buy for couples if they share a common
   interest, such as cooking or travel.

-  Entertain simply. The main idea behind entertaining is getting
   together with friends. Eating and drinking in moderation is
   now the trend. Parties don't have to be lavish to be fun.

-  Travel wisely. If you're heading home for the holidays, go
   with a friend. Rent a car or carpool to save some hard-earned
   cash. For those who are flying, the best bargains are found by
   booking early.

-  Give gift certificates and money. These gifts are always
   right, especially for teens. With so many stores having
   after-Christmas sales, gift certificates and money go a long
   way. For college students, give long distance certificates,
   food and movie vouchers, or certificates for the campus

-  Make your gifts. Hand made presents bring back nostalgic
   memories of old-fashioned holidays and are always in style:
   cookies, candy, antipasto, decorations, mittens and slippers.

-  Give the gift of time. Time is a valuable resource and even
   those on a strict budget can give a friend free babysitting
   time, vouchers to help with homework, or certificates for snow

-  Make your own accessories. Wrapping paper and decorations can
   eat up a large portion of a Christmas budget and it is no
   secret that making them can save some dollars. Simple
   newspaper or brown paper can look quite enticing with some
   ribbon and stickers. Gift tags can be made from old Christmas
   cards -- or generated on a computer.

-  Buy in multiples. Often gift ideas are suitable for more than
   one person on the Christmas list. For example, if the teenage
   trend is wearing flannel boxer shorts, purchase enough at a
   "two for one" sale to give to nieces and nephews as well as
   sons and daughters.

-  Use the phone. Save time and gas miles by calling ahead to see
   if the store has the item in stock and at what price. Often
   they will hold the items upon request or identify another
   outlet that has the item in stock. Catalogue shopping is also
   great for those who want to save on gas and avoid the crowds.

Of course, the best tip of all is to start your shopping on
Boxing Day, well in advance of the next holiday season!


Contact: Louise MacDonald  902-424-0394

trp                     Nov. 25, 1996 - 10:33 a.m.