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About RBC > Media Newsroom > News Releases > Post-holiday pay-off: Canadians kept debts down, spending in check over the holiday season: RBC Poll

Post-holiday pay-off: Canadians kept debts down, spending in check over the holiday season: RBC Poll

  • Cash/debit was the top payment choice
  • Three in ten Canadians also cashed in rewards points to help offset holiday costs


TORONTO, February 19, 2015 - The majority of Canadians didn’t overspend this past holiday season, keeping debt down while celebrating with family and friends, according to the RBC 2015 Post-Holiday Spending Poll. Sixty five per cent said they didn’t spend more than they intended. Their spending control motivators (opens PDF in new window):

  • Not wanting to go into or increase their debt (35 per cent);
  • Being diligent about tracking their spending by making a budget and sticking to it (34 per cent);
  • Knowing how much they had to spend and once the money was gone, “that was it” (24 per cent).

“Canadians took their budgets to heart over the holidays and kept their spending in check - a great gift to themselves,” noted Maria Contreras, senior manager, Savings Accounts, RBC. “For the majority who didn’t overspend, sticking to a budget proved to be a real plus. Consumers saw the benefits of planning ahead and creating a realistic budget that worked for them; they also looked to their rewards points to help keep costs down over the holidays.”

Cash/debit was the most popular choice of payment for 69 per cent of shoppers. Forty-seven per cent of Canadians used credit cards for their holiday purchases.

Rewards programs were also used to fund holiday purchases (opens PDF in new window), as three in ten shoppers used their rewards points for merchandise (44 per cent), groceries (42 per cent) and gift cards (40 per cent). In addition to making redemptions, rewards program participants also looked for bonus offers to maximize their points collection (opens PDF in new window) (59 per cent), consolidated their purchases on one rewards credit card (42 per cent) and only shopped at retailers where they could collect points (40 per cent).

Meanwhile, the 35 per cent of shoppers who did overspend during the holidays are planning to take action to get their finances back on track (opens PDF in new window), including:

  • Dialing back their entertainment expenses (39 per cent);
  • Reducing day to day expenses, such as groceries, phone and cable (37 per cent);
  • Using their credit cards less (30 per cent);
  • Cutting back on lunch and coffee money (30 per cent)

Interestingly, when Canadians were asked the same question in the RBC 2013 Post-Holiday Poll, Canadians chose to pare back their day-to-day expenses first (43 per cent) over entertainment (41 per cent).

“Planning ahead and adapting your budget to fit your holiday spending ideas can help take a lot of the stress out of the holiday season,” added Contreras. “Start early by putting money aside every week or month automatically into a savings account. If you’re a rewards points collector, check out the ways you can earn and use your points to help manage your holiday spending.”

RBC offers these tips for those who want a head start getting ready for their 2015 holiday spending:

  • Revisit and revise your current budget. Whether you stayed under budget or went over a bit during the holidays, take the time to review your budget. See where you spent your money this past holiday season and where you would like to spend your money for the next holiday season. Look for ways to cut out small costs and save more money.
  • Start saving up for the holidays early. Yes, the holidays seem far away now, but with a bit of planning you can get ahead of the game. Start by setting aside money each week or with every payday. That way by the time the holidays arrive, you’ll be prepared and will know how much you can spend.
  • Consolidate your spending on your rewards credit card to earn points. From groceries to utility bills, charge monthly and day-to-day expenses to your card to earn points and then pay off your credit card balance every month. Sign up for your reward program e-mail so that you’re aware of promotions that will allow you to earn more points, which you can then redeem for merchandise or gift cards, or use to pay down your holiday credit card balance.
  • Redeem your rewards points for gifts. From merchandise to financial rewards to gift cards, plan ahead and use your rewards points for gifts.

Other regional highlights from the RBC 2015 Post-Holiday Spending Poll:

  • Consumers in Ontario (37 per cent), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (36 per cent) and Quebec (36 per cent) were the most likely to stick to their holiday budgets because they didn’t want to go into debt or increase their debit load.
  • Albertans were most likely to cut back on their entertainment to get their spending back on track (45 per cent).
  • Thirty seven per cent of British Columbians were the most likely to keep their holiday spending in check by tracking their spending and sticking to their budget (37 per cent). They also primarily used cash/debit to fund their holiday expenses in the highest numbers (74 per cent).
  • Atlantic Canadians were the top maximizers of rewards points collection this past holiday season – 75 per cent looked for bonus offers and 49 per cent only shopped at retailers where they could collect points.
  • Shoppers from Saskatchewan/Manitoba and Alberta maximized their points collection by putting all of their holiday purchases on one rewards credit card (47 per cent).
About RBC savings and other financial advice and interactive tools
Canadians can access for free savings advice and resources. In addition, all personal RBC online banking clients can use myFinanceTracker, a no-cost interactive financial management tool, to create and track their budget, savings goals and spending habits. Whether Canadians want to get more from their day-to-day banking, protect what's important, save and invest, borrow with confidence or take care of their businesses, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer their questions. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance at

About RBC Rewards
As one of Canada's premier providers of loyalty programs, RBC has the reward options that helps clients get the most from their points. From using points to pay down their credit card balances with Payback with Points to exciting merchandise, travel and gift cards redemptions, Canadians have flexibility and choice in how they use their points. For more information, please see

About the RBC 2015 Post Holiday Spending Poll
These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between January 15-20, 2015. A sample of 2,006 Canadians was interviewed from the Ipsos I-Say panel. Quota sampling and weighting was employed to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the adult population according to Census information. The accuracy of Ipsos Reid online polls is measured using a Credibility Interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of Canadian adults been polled. Credibility intervals will be wider for smaller subsets of the population. The “How Did You Finance Holiday Spending?” question was fielded between January 30th to February 5, 2015 to a separate sample of n=2,000 Canadians.

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For further information please contact:

Lena Wan, RBC Communications, 416-955-6665
Kathy Bevan, RBC Communications, 416-974-8820