01/31/2012 06:43 EST | Updated 04/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Bank surveys find majority of Canadians kept their holiday spending on budget

TORONTO - Surveys released today by two banks indicate a majority of Canadians managed to keep their holiday spending in check.

An RBC poll found concern about debt levels was the top reason 69 per cent of holiday shoppers stayed on track — up slightly from 67 per cent the previous year.

However, the survey found 31 per cent spent more than intended during the holidays, and women were more likely to go over budget than men.

Those who overspent went over their budget by an average of $467, up almost $38 from 2010.

Many of the overspenders say they plan to cut back on entertainment and day-to-day living expenses such as groceries, phone and cable to get back on track.

The online survey polled 4,479 people and the results were weighted to balance demographics and reflect the adult population according to census data.

"It's encouraging to see that the majority of Canadians kept an eye on personal debt and took a more cautious approach to holiday purchases," said Richard Goyder, vice-president of personal lending at RBC.

According to a BMO survey, the majority of Canadians are heading into 2012 without a cloud of excessive holiday spending hampering their financial picture.

BMO found households kept holiday spending in check in 2011, with 76 per cent spending less or the same on holiday gifts, trips and entertaining than in 2010.

Furthermore, 57 per cent of respondents indicated that their financial responsibilities will not suffer as a result of their recent holiday spending.

"The latest numbers are a very positive sign that Canadian households are both setting realistic spending limits, and also staying on budget," said Su McVey, vice-president, BMO Bank of Montreal.

BMO's online survey polled 1,504 Canadian adults and the results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.