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How To Budget for the Christmas Bill Shock


Did you end up with a credit card bill shock last January because you didn’t budget your Christmas gifts? This year we are going to fix that.


Isn’t it a Little Early For Christmas?



Yes if you are a normal person it is. But the whole point of getting better with your money, is to not be normal  like everyone else is with money.


Here’s the deal…


As of today there are just over 100 days left until Christmas (in case you didn’t know they have scheduled another Christmas this year…. shocking! I know right!?!).


That means sometime in the next 100 days or so we are all going to panic and go crazy about how much we need to do and shop for in the short time. In doing that, we will pay more than we need to, buy things on impulse and just be all around foolish in our seasonal shopping ( it’s ok we all do it). Plus it turn us into these huge freakin’ balls of stress.





Let’s Avoid the Money Shock This Year and Start Saving Now


Instead of getting to December and realizing that you haven’t saved enough for Christmas this year let’s try something new. Let’s get set up for a successful Christmas.


It doesn’t take long to do.


Here’s what you need. (Pick one of the 2 options)


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How much you spent on Christmas last year.


A list of everyone you are shopping for this year.


Method 1: How Much Did You Spend on Christmas Last Year?


Step 1: Find Last Years Grand Total


If your Christmas shopping is pretty much the same from year to year, then this is an easy way to go. Go back into Mint or Quicken, or your bank/credit card statements from last year and figure out how much you spent on Christmas.


Let’s say you spent $1000 in total on Christmas related shopping and activities last year.


Step 2: Take That Amount and Divide it by the Days you Have Left.


If you spent $1000 and have roughly 100 days left until Christmas then you can figure out how much you need to be saving every day to avoid the dreaded January bill shock.


$1000/100 = $10 a day needs to be saved.


Step 3: Automate That Amount into a Separate Account.


In our example you need to be saving $10 a day to make sure you have enough to cover last years expenses err… festivities.  Set up an automatic transfer to a separate savings account for that amount.


Do it every day if possible or every week. This will make your holiday season a little more festive when you know there is money in the bank.


One last thing…

If you have made new friends this year and need a little more money go ahead and bump up that number. Going from $10 to $11 a day will put an extra $100 into your savings account.

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How to Budget For The Christmas Bill Shock!

Method 2: Who are you shopping for?

Step 1: Make a List of Everyone You Need to Buy For and Total How Much You Will Spend


If you are super organized you may have last years list still kicking around (hint: if you put it in Excel or Word it’s there for you every year). If not brainstorm everyone you need to buy for this year.


If you are like a lot of families you probably set a limit on how much you want to spend on each person. It’s a good easy conversation to have with those you feel close enough to have this conversation with.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 above in Method 1


Look, most of the stress around the holidays comes from not planning things out. This quick little process will save you stress, financial headaches, and may get you started (and finished) your shopping long before you may usually start.


I know it’s early but that’s how we work here. Think in advance, plan for it, execute the plan.




If You Want Bonus Points

For the keeners out there: Try and have all your shopping done by the end of October. That way you can watch everyone else fight the crowds and you can sit back and read your favourite blogs with your feet up.




Budgeting = Freedom

Budgeting gives you freedom. Take a few minutes now and get everything set up to help pay your bills in January when they come around.


Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to set up an automatic transfer for my holiday spending.

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How do you budget for the holidays and birthdays? Let me know in the comments below.


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  1. Reply

    I’m a scrooge. I don’t buy anything for anyone. I give my parents money in a pretty card and that’s it. I don’t have Christmas shopping in my budget and there is no way to squeeze it in at this stage. When I get children, it will probably change, but for now, no gifts.

    • Reply

      Hi Danielle! We’ve cut out a lot of people because of a similar reason. We used to do gift swaps and secret saints, then it turned out we getting gift cards for everyone. When everyone is getting a $20 gift card it just makes sense to stop doing it. Of course once kids come into the picture it’s a totally different game.

  2. Reply

    I use YNAB for my monthly budget and I have a category for Christmas that I try to add $25-$50 each month in order to have my savings ready for Christmas.

    It makes the holidays so much less stressful!!

  3. Melanie


    My Christmas spending between gifts, and hosting dinners, parties etc is consistently around $1500. I have kids, nephews, etc.
    I put away $125 a month throughout the whole year and then when December comes my Christmas is paid for 🙂
    I have done this for the past 5 years and the stress relief is awesome.

    • Reply

      Hi Melanie! That is great that you are set up to roll for Christmas. We also save year round for Christmas and birthday gifts. It’s way easier than scrambling for $1500 in December. You are absolutely right the stress relief is totally worth the planning.

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