Despite consumers' best efforts to cut back on spending, the holidays are typically an occasion when people go over budget. But this past year was an exception to that rule for a considerable number of Canadians.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada's Post-Holiday Spending Poll, nearly seven in 10 Canadians - 69 per cent - said they were able to stay within their holiday spending limit. When asked how they were able to do this, 40 per cent attributed it to worries about their debt loads and 27 per cent said they kept a running tally of their costs.

Richard Goyder, vice president of personal lending at RBC, found it admirable that so many Canadians were disciplined with their spending habits during the holiday season.

"It's encouraging to see that the majority of Canadians kept an eye on personal debt and took a more cautious approach to holiday purchases," said Goyder. "However, some Canadians went beyond their budget, meaning that there's still room for improvement when creating a budget and payment plan."

Just less than one-third of Canadians said they spent more than they intended to for holiday purchases, down 2 per cent when compared to a similar poll conducted in 2010. Among those who exceeded their limits, the average overspending amount was nearly $470, up $38 from last year's poll. Women tended to be the ones who most frequently exceeded their budget at 35 per cent compared to 26 per cent of men. This was also common among parents 41 per cent said they weren't able to stay under budget.

But even though some Canadians couldn't reign in their costs during the holidays, many plan to make up the difference by dialing back their expenses in other areas. For example, 42 per cent said they plan on making fewer entertainment and everyday living purchases, such as on groceries and telephone bills. In addition, 35 per cent of Canadians said they will make fewer purchases with their credit cards and 31 per cent said they plan on devoting less of their money toward lunch and coffee runs.

By doing this consistently, some Canadians may be able to devote their added savings toward financing their retirement. A recent Angus Reid poll found the majority of people felt unprepared for that event.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, approximately 60 per cent of Canadians say they plan on investing more of their earnings toward retirement within the next year. Specifically, 15 per cent say they will contribute to their tax free savings account, 19 per cent said they will contribute to their registered retirement savings plan and one in four say they will contribute to both.

"It is encouraging news that many Canadians are planning to make a contribution to their retirement fund this year," said Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC. "This research indicates that an increasing number of Canadians are planning to make use of one or both of the two key retirement vehicles available to help maximize long term savings."

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