More than half (57%) of Canadians say they spend too much during the holiday season, according to a recent survey by TD Canada Trust, a division of Toronto-Dominion Bank. More than two-thirds of those respondents say gift-buying is to blame.

To help your clients to stay on track with their financial plans, consider having a conversation with them about financial repercussions of excessive holiday shopping.

Susan Fulford, a Toronto-based investment advisor with TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., shares three ways to motivate your clients to spend wisely:

1. Ask about their budget
Clients with financial plans are already aware of the funds that are being set aside for major purchases. However, if you’re meeting with these clients around this time of year, ask them what they have set aside for gift shopping.

“Just asking the question makes them pause,” Fulford says, “and put a number around something they might not have previously done.”

Do you make a budget for your own shopping? Share that story with your clients. Telling your story will make it easier to relate to, Fulford says, and it will show your clients how easy it is to implement a shopping budget.

2. Relate short-term spending to your clients’ goals
Once your clients have determined how much to spend, provide a financial projection to show them how that budget will affect their long-term goals.

“Financial projections can help them understand the rewards of budgeting today, for tomorrow,” Fulford says.

While one year’s holiday shopping may seem harmless to long-term plans, consistently spending a few thousand dollars every year can have a detrimental effect on a client’s ability to afford a new home or to retire on time.

Your projections will show your clients whether they need to reconsider their spending.

3. Suggest ways to “shop smart”
Engage in a casual conversation about how your clients can increase what Fulford calls “value-buying opportunities” — in other words, getting more for their buck. Different clients will have access to different opportunities to save.

For example, ask them if they are entitled to any discounts though their employers. Many companies provide perks such as tickets to events and discounts at restaurants.

If clients are looking for more personalized ideas, remind them that gifts don’t have to be expensive. If they are listening to family and friends throughout the year, they should catch some hints about what matters to those individuals. An ideal gift could be as simple and inexpensive as a book from the bestseller list or an evening’s babysitting.