Skip to main content

Did you know Canadians spent $25 billion last holiday season? And retailers expect shoppers to spend even more this year, despite the pandemic. That’s a lot of photo cards, candy canes, CD’s, and sparkly ornaments. But unless you plan on skipping Christmas this year, you’ll find yourself a part of that $25 billion machine. To enjoy the gift-giving season without any guilt-ridden overspending, set up your Christmas budget now—and then stick to it like sap on a fir tree.

First things first: It’s time to do some digging into your Christmas budget. That means you need to ask yourself the following questions to see where you stand now so you can know how much to spend on presents later.

How much do you have saved? Before you know what you can spend, see what you’ve got to work with. Hopefully, you started saving early. If not, we’ll talk about how to get extra money, so you don’t end up just doling out coal this year.

What budget lines can you tweak? Even if you started saving early, you might still need more cash to cover all the Christmas costs. Look through your normal budget and figure out what budget lines can get trimmed down to free up gift money for your Christmas budget.

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few nonessential budget lines you can probably cut back: restaurants, clothing, personal spending, entertainment, and gourmet coffee.

How can you boost your income? If you’re able, boost your income for a couple weeks as a way to up your spending power. You could sell some things, take on extra hours at work, or start a side hustle. Get creative: Babysit so parents can go Christmas shopping alone, shovel driveways and sidewalks, offer gift-wrapping services… you get the idea!

What Christmas traditions can you skip? You can save money this year by cutting some expenses—and that includes traditions that don’t really matter (like the annual office ornament swap). Be open and honest with your budget and your loved ones.

Do you have a shopping list? If not, make one! You need to list out every person you’ll need to buy for and start brainstorming present ideas.

How can you save on gifts? Shop sales. Use coupons. DIY and make homemade gifts. Skip random gift exchanges. These are just some of the ways you can save serious cash this Christmas on presents.

How to Set Up Your Christmas Spending Budget

  1. Plan how much you’ll spend this year.
    Last year, the average Canadian was expected to spend $1,593 on holiday spending. And remember, retailers expect even more this year! First of all, you should never feel pressured to spend that much. You should spend what you’re comfortable with based on what you make, what you’ve saved, and what you can move around in your budget to get the job done. So, crunch some numbers and see how much you’ve got to play around with this year.
  1. Add the names of everyone who need a present.
    Once you’ve set up your budget, make a list of each person you have to buy for. Now, go ahead and assign spending limits to each person.
  1. Track your spending as you go.
    Want to know how you don’t overspend? You track. You track hard. You track often. Keep up with all that spending as you go.
  1. Move amounts around when needed.
    Oh no. You overspent on Mom by $5. What will you do? It has to come from somewhere. You can lower Dad’s line (sorry, Dad!) by $5 and use it to up Mom’s line. Move that money around until your budget balances again.
  1. Budget early for next Christmas.
    Here’s a quick shout-out to planning early—do it! Put a sinking fund in your budget as soon as January to start stashing away cash for next year’s Christmas. If you do it little by little, month by month, coming up with Christmas money won’t hit you like the reindeer that ran over grandma in that song that’s now stuck in your head!