Financial experts offer Christmas Survival Tips

KITCHENER, ON, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - A happy new year starts now, through prudent financial planning and exercising restraint over the holidays. "Typically, our phone starts ringing in early January when people start having trouble keeping up with their credit card bills that have mounted over the Christmas holidays," says Douglas Hoyes, a trustee with Hoyes Michalos & Associates, trustees in bankruptcy. "We expect this year to be even worse than previous years because of the volatile economic climate," adds Hoyes.

How can you survive the holidays and beyond during this economic crisis? Financial experts from Hoyes Michalos & Associates Inc. offer their top three tips for your Christmas list.

    1. Reduce your debt. "If you have credit card debt you are paying
    interest, greatly increasing the cost of your purchases. Debt also means
    the lender is calling the shots, telling you when to pay, and how much.
    If you have debt, you are not in control. Take immediate steps to reduce
    your debt to regain control of your finances," says Douglas Hoyes.

    2. Use cash, not credit cards. Use cash for your holiday spending. "Have
    you noticed what the interest rates on unpaid credit card balances are
    lately?" asks Ted Michalos, a trustee with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates.
    "Credit card interest rates average between 18% and 25%," says Michalos.
    "These rates are astronomically high. This means that an unpaid balance
    of $2,000 can cost you $4,000 or more to repay," cautions Michalos.
    "Make paying cash a habit and leave the credit cards home when you hit
    the malls," says Michalos.

    3. Spend Less. "Make frugality the new bling," urges Hoyes. "Many people
    are in a similar situation this year. Consider gifts like baby-sitting or
    preparing a meal. These are gifts that are appreciated but do not
    actually cost too much," suggests Hoyes. Discuss the topic with your
    family and friends. "Perhaps a group gift exchange, where each person
    only has to buy one gift might be the solution. You may find that others
    are also pleasantly relieved," adds Michalos. "Think of what your mom
    always told you - it is the thought that counts," says Michalos.

Experts suggest making an important financial holiday list this year. Make sure that it includes a plan to reduce debt, use as little credit as possible, and sticking to a budget to spend less.

Experts agree that the best way to avoid financial problems is to prevent them. Visit for more information on bankruptcy, budgeting and personal budget analysis. You can also call 310-PLAN (310-7526, no area code required in Ontario).

Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc., a trustee in bankruptcy firm with offices throughout Ontario, helps people in financial difficulty. Further information can be found at

SOURCE Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.

For further information: For further information: Douglas Hoyes, CA, Trustee in Bankruptcy,, Direct Line: (519) 568-4020 or 1-866-747-0660

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