January 2020

Consumer Edge

Office of Consumer Affairs

January 2020

Paying off holiday debt

Did you know that the average Canadian will spend around $1,500 on holiday shopping this year? Additionally, 17% of Canadians are worried about accumulating credit card debt during the holidays. In this edition of Consumer Edge, learn how to manage your spending in 2020 and pay off holiday debts.

Make or review your budget. This will guide your spending to help you reach your financial goals.

Decide on a strategy for debt repayment. The types of debt and the amount of debt you owe will inform your strategy for paying them off.

Consolidate your debts. If your debt is spread out across several credit cards, you'll only have to make one monthly payment instead of paying each of your debts individually.

Avoid taking on more debt. If you continue to spend more than you make, it will be difficult to become debt-free.

Avoid debt shock by starting to save for the next holiday season as soon as possible. For example, if you set aside $50 a month, you'll have $600 to spend during the holidays at the end of the year.

If you're having trouble paying down your debt on your own, you may contact an accredited not-for-profit credit counsellor, a financial advisor, or a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Refund and exchange policies

Need to return a gift? Remember that businesses are not legally obligated to accept returned items unless they are defective. Be sure you understand the retailer's refund or exchange policy, if one exists.

If you have a complaint about a retailer's refund or exchange policy, reach out to the office responsible for consumer affairs in your province or territory.

Need more information about the complaint process? You may also consult the Complaint Roadmap for consumers.

Gym memberships

Was your New Year's resolution to hit the gym? If you bought a gym membership in the heat of the moment, you may have time to reconsider.

In some provinces and territories, there is a cancellation (cooling-off) period for contracts, such as health club memberships, credit cards and door-to-door sales. The cooling-off period is defined as a specific period of time during which you may cancel the contract—for any reason. Remember this applies only to certain kinds of contracts, and the rules may vary by province and territory.

Budgeting made easy

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's new Budget Planner is a free interactive tool that allows you to create a personalized budget that you can save and update online. It provides tips, guidelines and alerts to make budgeting easier, and helps you determine next steps with suggestions and useful links. It also creates charts that show you where your money is going and gives you the option to compare your budget with those of other Canadians in similar life situations.

Visit fcac-acfc.gc.ca/BP-PB/budget-planner to create your budget today!