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Why you shouldn’t buy an ugly Christmas sweater and other tips for a budget-friendly holiday





The holiday season can be filled with joy, but can also be a pain for your bank account.

According to a recent survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,563 over the holidays, up nearly 4 per cent from a year ago.

All this spending can lead to debt troubles, according to CTV News’ Chief Financial Commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid.

“I guarantee you, a year from now there will be people still paying off their credit card,” Lovett-Reid said during a recent interview with “If you took $1,000 and you bought your holiday gifts, and you only made the minimum payment of $25, at the going rate out there, that’s 61 months to pay it off and then you’ve added $500 in interest.”

“Who wants to be paying off Christmas 2018 in 2023?”

Lovett-Reid and Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada, spoke to about some of the best ways to stay on budget over the holidays.

Plan ahead

Both experts agree the biggest thing people can do to avoid overspending through the holidays is to plan a budget ahead of time, and stick to it.

“So many people end up buying that one extra gift for this one person…and it really blows the budget,” Campbell says.

Campbell adds the budget you plan for shouldn’t just include the gifts you buy, but should also include your budget for parties, food and outings.

Lovett-Reid said it’s easy for people who don’t plan ahead to be forced to dive into some of their other accounts to pay the bills.

“I really hope people don’t dip into their savings, their retirement fund, their emergency savings, because the fact is, you’re not alone here,” she said.

Potlucks and BYOB parties


A group of strangers with nowhere to go during the holidays gathered at a farmhouse in Blockhouse, N.S., hosted by Patty McGill for Christmas Day dinner, Sunday, December 25, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adina Bresge)

Holiday parties can also break the bank if you don’t plan accordingly, the experts say.

Campbell suggests making your party a potluck and asking attendees to bring their own drinks in order to keep the cost friendly.

“(Alcohol) is extremely expensive and most people will (bring their own),” she said. “There’s only the odd person who would come empty-handed anyway.”

Campbell adds potlucks can be more fun than a traditional dinner because people get to taste different foods.

Credit Canada suggests avoiding a purchase of a single-night outfit for a party, such as an ugly sweater or party dress. These can be expensive pieces of clothing that aren’t functional for much beyond those special occasions.

Comparison shopping


A busy mall at Christmas is seen in this file image. (Pexels)

Making sure you compare the prices of gifts at different stores is key, Campbell says.

Comparison shopping takes time, however, so starting your Christmas shopping starter early can help when it comes to finding the right deals.

“If people haven’t started their shopping, get out there now or as soon as possible,” Campbell says.

Because comparison shopping can take time, its best to avoid peak shopping hours, shopping while hungry or with a child, all of which can make the shopper more inclined to spend quickly just to get it over with.

Lovett-Reid suggests taking time to think a big purchase through before deciding to go with it.

“Give yourself 24 to 48 hours, pause, reflect if it makes sense, can you really afford it?” she said. “In some ways you have to put a wall around yourself.”

Alternative gifting

Christmas gifts

A Christmas present is seen in this file image. (Pexels)

Lovett-Reid suggests there are plenty of options for giving a meaningful gift that won’t hit the wallet.

This includes using your reward points, which can allow the shopper to buy an expensive gift without spending a dime. You can also barter for gifts or sell some items that you don’t use to give you some extra spending money.

Campbell says offering up your time to someone can also be a great way to give a meaningful gift, without spending money.

“Offer service to somebody,” she said. “You neighbour may have a hard time shovelling snow, offer shoveling snow. Offer service to your teenager of cleaning up their room five times.”

“It’s not about the presents, but it’s about the time you’re spending together and the activities and the traditions that you have.”

For group gift-giving, a Secret Santa is also a good way to stay on budget as then you only have to worry about getting one gift, instead of getting something for everyone.


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash





The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada





OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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