Skip navigation
Navigation skipped

News Releases

78 Per Cent of Canadians Plan to Cut Back on Holiday Spending, but a Third Will Still Give Back to Charitable Causes - BMO Survey
  • 51 per cent say thinking about holiday spending causes financial anxiety.
  • On average, Canadians believe it will take three months to pay off holiday bills.
  • While spending less on gifts, nearly a third plan to give back to charitable causes.

TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2023 /CNW/ - The BMO Real Financial Progress Index reveals growing concerns about the rising cost of living are affecting Canadians' holiday spending plans. The survey examined Canadians' spending plans this holiday season and found:

  • Fewer Holiday Gifts: 
    • Four in five (78 per cent) plan on buying fewer gifts this holiday season.
    • 45 per cent will spend less money on fewer gifts.
    • A quarter (26 per cent) of Canadians will cut down the number of people on their gift list this holiday season.
    • Over a third (37 per cent) are not confident they will be able to afford every item on their holiday shopping list.
  • Financial Anxiety Forecast: 
    • Half (51 per cent) of Canadians say thinking of holiday spending causes financial anxiety.
  • Scaling Back Spending: 
    • 40 per cent are buying less expensive gifts, while 35 per cent plan to reduce their spending by making fewer big purchases.
  • Post-Holiday Bills: 
    • On average, Canadians believe it will take three months to pay back their holiday bills. As many as one quarter (24 per cent) are not confident they will be able to pay off their post-holiday bills on time.

"The holidays are certainly a time to celebrate with loved ones, but the holiday parties, family gatherings, travel and gift exchanges can also pose a financial strain – especially during times of economic uncertainty," said Gayle Ramsay, Head, Everyday Banking, Segment & Customer Growth, BMO. "The rising cost of living will be top of mind this holiday season, but planning early, using digital tools to conveniently set and monitor budgets, and working with an expert can help Canadians stay on track, alleviate financial anxiety and enable them to continue making long-term real financial progress."   

The Bank of Canada's recent Survey of Consumer Expectations underscored BMO's survey findings that households fear inflation could remain high, squeezing budgets and leading to significant spending cuts. Findings from the BMO Real Financial Progress Index also found that while 68 per cent feel optimistic about their financial future (over the next year), only a third (33 per cent) believe they are making real financial progress and 29 per cent feel less financially secure than they did a year ago.

'Tis the Season for Giving

Despite the challenging economic environment, the survey reveals Canadians are incorporating charitable giving as part of their holiday spending plans:

  • Giving During Uncertainty: A third (33 per cent) of Canadians say their charitable giving will remain the same as previous years and 10 per cent consider being able to donate to the causes they care about as a sign of real financial progress.
  • Giving Strategies: Over a third (35 per cent) plan to contribute money and/or donate stocks, securities and/or mutual funds to charitable causes, while 16 per cent plan to volunteer their time this holiday season.
  • Meaningful Motivations: The majority of Canadians who to plan on giving back to their communities plan to help people in need (61 per cent) and support their preferred causes (51 per cent). A quarter (23 per cent) say giving back allows them to teach their children and family the importance of giving.

"The holiday season often inspires us to spread hope to our communities, and strategic giving allows Canadians to be part of the change they want to see," said Lydia Potocnik, Head, Estate Planning & Philanthropic Advisory Services, BMO Private Wealth. "For those who have the resources and would like to make meaningful contributions that will support progress in their communities, working with professionals will allow Canadians to be more thoughtful with their giving activities, donations and volunteer work."

For Canadians looking to give back this holiday season, there are a variety of charitable giving options available:

  • Donate directly: Donating cash or other assets such as publicly-traded securities to a charity's general fund for unrestricted use, or to a restricted fund for a specific project.
  • Donate through a will: Make a testamentary gift in a will by giving a set dollar amount or a portion of the estate to a charity.
  • Establish a donor advised fund (DAF): DAFs offer an immediate income tax deduction in the year of the gift and enable the donor to distribute the funds for grant making over an extended period of time. The BMO Charitable Giving Program is a flexible and cost-effective DAF program that enables Canadians to create a charitable giving plan in collaboration with the Charitable Gift Funds Canada Foundation.

BMO offers innovative digital tools and resources to help customers build financial literacy, monitor financial plans, and reach financial goals:

  • BMO SmartProgress: This tool helps customers learn more about important personal finance topics and build financial literacy anywhere and at any time. It is a free, online financial education platform featuring customized, interactive content, including videos and tools, on complex financial planning topics including budgeting and credit management, homeownership and investing.
  • BMO CreditView: Customers can quickly and easily check their credit scores and access new tools and advice to manage their credit profile online and on mobile.
  • BMO InsightsCustomers get help saving more, monitoring spending and account values, and spotting unusual activity with 25 BMO Insights that provide customers free, quick, and personalized views of their daily spending to help them make informed decisions. Popular online insights include:
    • CashTrack: Using artificial intelligence, these insights monitor customers' cash flows and let them know if they will run out of money in the next seven days.
    • Spend Categorization: These insights notify customers when there has been a significant increase in a specific spending category or if a free trial has expired.
  • BMO Savings Amplifier Account: To help make saving easy and automatic, BMO's new Savings Amplifier Account offers no monthly fees, a competitive interest rate, and unlimited no-fee transfers to other BMO accounts. In addition, its digital Savings Goals feature enables customers to set, track, and manage their financial goals.

To learn more about how BMO helps customers make financial progress, visit

About the BMO Real Financial Progress Index

Launched in February 2021, the BMO Real Financial Progress Index is an indicator of how consumers feel about their personal finances and whether they are making financial progress. The index aims to spark dialogue that will help consumers reach their financial goals and to humanize a topic that causes anxiety for many – money.

The research detailed in this document was conducted by Ipsos in Canada from September 11 to October 9, 2023. A sample of n=2,502 adults ages 18+ in Canada were collected. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. This survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults 18+ been surveyed.

About BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group is the eighth largest bank in North America by assets, with total assets of $1.25 trillion as of July 31, 2023. Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a diverse team of highly engaged employees providing a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management, global markets and investment banking products and services to over 13 million customers across Canada, the United States, and in select markets globally. Driven by a single purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, BMO is committed to driving positive change in the world, and making progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future, and inclusive society.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: Media Contact: Anke Suwanda, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996