Valley First

Avoid Blue Monday

Simple planning could help Canadians avoid Blue Monday
December 12, 2014

Penticton, B.C.—The Monday in the last full week of January has been dubbed “Blue Monday” and singled out as a source of melancholy and stress due to the combination of post-holiday doldrums, increased credit card debt and lack of daylight. Whether it’s a real phenomenon or not, 2015’s upcoming so-called “most depressing day of the year” may continue to be just that for some Canadians.

Consumers are continuing to ramp up their non-housing related debt loads, according to a recent report from Equifax Canada. At the same time, they are increasing their holiday spending—a Deloitte Canada survey indicates that 65.7 per cent of Canadians are planning to spend the same or more money on gifts and decor compared to last year. This could spell trouble for some come the new year, particularly if interest rates begin to creep upward.

So what’s a fiscally responsible consumer to do?

“With just a little planning, shoppers can come out of the holidays with less of a financial burden,” says Marek Buryska, a branch manager with Valley First in Kelowna.

Buryska’s advice starts off with making a budget of how much you have to spend on each person on your list.

“If people don’t have a budget in place, they tend buy whatever suits their fancy,” he says. “When the bills come in January, they have no idea how they’re going to pay for it.” What’s more, Buryska advises tracking all expenses monthly and reviewing those regularly.

“Holiday spending is often the trigger for getting people into deep trouble,” he says. “What we often find is that people’s expenses are more than they are taking in and they don’t even know it,” he says.

Consumers should start tracking what they spent month to month and they’ll soon become aware of where they can cut back, adds Buryska. Personal banking experts in the branch are also there to provide advice.

“People don’t realize that we’re here to help them figure out the best ways to manage their debt or spending—and our advice is free,” says Buryska.

Lastly, if you find yourself having spent too much, Buryska says to pay off your highest interest credit cards first or consolidate your credit card debt on to your mortgage or a line of credit—which often carry a 10 to 15 per cent lower interest rate then credit cards, meaning you’ll end up paying much less interest in the end.

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 38 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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