December is the nastiest month for personal finance

Between gifts, social engagements, entertaining and charitable giving, December has to be far and away the most expensive month of the year. To help manage the cost, I put together this guide to smart holiday season spending. It covers everything from buying gifts for children to best ways of using up your leftover turkey.

How not to over-spend: Lots of here, with details on how to put them into force. Example: advice on how to save money on family gift-giving and dinner out with friends. Here are some from a credit counselling agency, including a suggestion to use cash and not credit cards when doing your holiday season shopping.

How to spend meaningfully: A bunch of good suggestions for gifts that are about more than just . Here’s another good idea: Give – a car wash, cooking dinner and so forth (see No. 8 on this list).

Tips on toys: Child development experts are asked here for their advice on for young kids. One expert quotes making a case that having few toys means children play with each toy longer, allowing them to focus more and play more creatively. Here’s a list of the toys of the year.

Don’t overspend on Christmas dinner: Tips for keeping the .

On the hook for dessert? How to on holiday baking.

Getting maximum value from that leftover turkey: 56 to turkey sandwiches.

Charitable giving: Here’s a list of efficient, .

Finally, the Interac people predict that Dec. 22 will be the busiest shopping day of the year. Procrastinators, take note.

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Today’s featured financial tool
Here’s a one-page to help you track what you’re buying and the running total cost.

Ask Rob The question: “I am 69.5 years old and still working full time. My taxable income is about $100,000. Do you think I should still be contributing to my RRSP at this age? My retirement income will be about $80,000.”

The answer: “How about contributing to your TFSA instead of your RRSP? Money withdrawn from a TFSA is non-taxable and won’t figure into the calculation of whether any of your Old Age Security payments would be clawed back.”

Do you have a question for me? . Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video
What’s the for covering your holiday season expenses?

What I’ve been writing about
– A frank discussion of for not giving to charity
– Canada has a strong foundation for financial happiness. So why is the mood ?
– The easy way to lower your (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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