We have all been there. Two weeks before the winter holidays, three gifts left to buy and zero dollars left in the holiday budget. If you are like most Canadians, this is the exact moment you will reach into your wallet and pull out that emergency credit card -- after all, doesn't holiday shopping constitute an 'emergency'?
No matter how good our intentions are going into the holidays, it's easy for us to over-extend ourselves and get caught up in the spirit of holiday spending. No matter how much we budget, plan and save for the holidays, occasionally we all find ourselves in a position where we are strapped for cash and feel the pressure to buy "just one more gift."
For many, this is the point where we either stop shopping or cross that thin financial line and set ourselves up for a nasty holiday debt hangover.
So, what do you do when the holiday well has run dry and you still have a few gifts left on your shopping list?
If you have truly extended your budget, put your credit card away. Stop spending money and think of creative ways to recognize those closest to you. Homemade gifts, new traditions and time together are just a few of the many ways to give gifts without going overboard on spending or losing the true spirit of the season.
More often than not, we get carried away by holiday spending and forget that the true meaning of the season is spending time with loved ones and creating memories that will last much longer than this year's hottest gift.
If you already know that the New Year will come with a heavy holiday debt hangover, start making a plan to pay down your credit card debt today. Starting the year off with a clear picture of your finances and a budget to be debt free in 2013, is the best gift you can give yourself and your family this year.
Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada. Visit www.consolidatedcredit.ca for more information on credit counseling, debt management and budgeting.
Extreme Couponer Melissa Mozzo-Mart was<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/melissa-mozzo-mart-attacked_n_2191497.html?1353945651"> allegedly attacked by a Dollar Tree store manager in Germantown, Tenn. the day before Thanksgiving</a> for attempting to use too many coupons, ABC News reports.
A Santa Claus impersonator spent <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/santa-claus-gets-beard-stuck-mall-ceremony-england_n_2165464.html">40 minutes dangling 15 feet above an excited crowd at a mall in England </a>after his white beard got tangled in a rope. He was eventually rescued by a colleague.
An accused shoplifter at a Walmart in Georgia <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/25/walmart-shoplifter-dead-a_n_2189558.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money"> died after getting into a physical altercation with store employees over Black Friday weekend</a>, WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News reports. The man was reportedly detained by Walmart workers after leaving the store with two DVD players.
A 14-year-old boy was walking out of Bed, Bath & Beyond on Black Friday <a href="http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2012/11/23/boy-robbed-during-black-friday-shopping-at-arundel-mills/">when a group of men attacked him and took his shopping bag</a>, CBS Baltimore reports.
Anthony Perry, a Springfield, Mass. man, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/anthony-perry-black-friday_n_2177204.html?utm_hp_ref=money">allegedly left his girlfriend's two-year-old son alone in a car</a> over Black Friday weekend so he could buy a TV at Kmart, WCVB reports. The child was found in the parking lot and police were forced to break into Perry's car to retrieve the child, WWLP reports. Police later found Perry at his home with his TV and without his car or the boy, police told WWLP.
A shopper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/san-antonio-man-pulls-gun-on-line-cutting-sears-black-friday-shoppers_n_2177293.html?utm_hp_ref=money">allegedly pulled a gun on a man who punched him in the face while in line at Sears</a> in San Antonio, Texas over Black Friday weekend, police told San Antonio Express-News.
A man <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/man-stab-kmart-customers-line-black-friday_n_2178898.html?utm_hp_ref=money">threatened to stab people outside a Kmart in San Francisco, Calif. over Black Friday weekend</a>, Local Fox 40 reports. The man eventually calmed down and no one was hurt.
<a href="http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/TPD-Working-Crime-Scene-at-WalMart-180611841.html">Two people were shot outside of a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla., on Black Friday</a>, according to WCTV. The victims were a man and a woman. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries. According to the Associated Press, authorities believe a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/black-friday-walmart-shooting_n_2178908.html" target="_hplink">parking space disagreement</a> led to the shooting.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/shoplifter-taser-dallas-black-friday_n_2178548.html?utm_hp_ref=money">Things got so chaotic on Black Friday</a> that police officers were forced to use a taser to subdue a frenzied shoplifter in Dallas, Texas, according to WFAA.com.
Follow Jeffrey Schwartz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Debt_Free_2Day