The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide

How To Create A Christmas Reserve Fund For Groceries : The GGC 2018 #4 Nov 26-Dec 2

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How to create a Christmas Reserve Fund


The Christmas season is glorious and costly at the same time especially when it comes to food and drink because it becomes the centrepiece of gatherings.

In the game of money you have to become a personal banker and reserve fund specialist if you want to save money for future needs whether it’s long or short-term.

I’m not talking about investing in the stock market or trying to figure out what you should be investing your money in either.

This is simply creating awareness about planning ahead for needs you know about so you don’t have to stress about finding money or putting extra expenses on your credit card or line of credit.

Some of you may have heard me talk about projected expenses over the years when it comes to your monthly budget but the reserve fund is a bit different.

It was last year I believe when Mary was posting her grocery shops for the grocery game challenge when I noticed she would talk about her Christmas reserve fund.

A CBB reader named Julie wanted to know more about the Christmas reserve fund that she noticed in our weekly grocery shop posts so I explained my version and then Mary went a bit further with the discussion.

Question – What is Christmas Reserve Fund? Do you have a link to an article about this?


Hi Julie,
Great question.

The Christmas reserve fund was started this year as we found that we spent more on groceries at Christmas.

We decided to track it monthly as a projected expense as we knew we would need the money come December above our regular grocery expenses.

There is no dedicated post to the Christmas reserve fund however I did write a post about our projected expenses that explains how we save for them and why.

Mary who also posts her grocery game posts was who inspired me to save for the Christmas Reserve. If you have a look at her posts in the comments of the GGC posts you will see her reserve funds that she saves for.

Perhaps Mary might have more to add and some tips for you. Let me see if she reads this comment or I will contact her directly.

Below Mary explains what her Christmas reserve fund entails and to be honest I think everyone who finds money tight over the holidays to consider starting one.


My Christmas Reserve fund covers the extras that come up between American Thanksgiving and New Years…for our family that’s baking supplies, candies, chocolates, nuts, a turkey, a ham, any specialty party trays that we may order, drinks such as sparkling apple juice and what not.

This assumes we’ll actually be home to use the funds though. Some years we are vacationing at that time of year and using our vacation budget instead.

When that happens, we just keep saving for the following Christmas and can have an even grander holiday season at home the following holiday season.

My Christmas Reserve is not all cash though…it’s a combination of cash set aside, Air Miles that can be redeemed, More Rewards that can be redeemed and PC Optimum Points for the balance.

Hang on to your receipts this holiday season

By the end of 2017 Mrs. CBB and I noticed that we had spent far more on Christmas groceries than we had liked because we were going away to the in-laws for about two weeks to visit.

As my mother-in-law seemed to not want to be in the kitchen as much and my father-in-law’s health declined the kids would all go grocery shopping and bring home food to cook for Christmas which included baked goods.

Most often we went a bit overboard with the food because it was either all last-minute or we weren’t sure how much to get. This also increased the costs but with kids in tow and sick in-laws it wasn’t easy.

My father-in-law did make his way to the LCBO to buy alcohol for mixed drinks and champagne for New Years which was his contribution to the holiday celebrations. I guess it became his tradition to make sure that everyone in the house whether family or friends visiting always had a drink.

The alcohol costs alone can run into the hundreds of dollars for those of you who do like to host friends and family so certainly something to consider when creating your Christmas reserve fund.

Thankfully we keep all of our receipts so we can complete our monthly budget so we were able to tally up how much money we spent between baking and buying food for the festivities.

How to create a Christmas reserve fund

Whether you shop throughout the year for holiday groceries or not it’s important to track that number so you can do the math on how much your Christmas reserve fund should be.

If you plan to use your PC Optimum points or any other points or rewards cards you can also estimate how much you typically save per year and add that to your Christmas reserve fund tally.

So, if your receipts for all of your grocery and alcohol needs added up to $500 this Christmas and you typically save $100 in PC Optimum points for December you must come up with $400 in your Christmas reserve fund by December.

Treating your Christmas reserve fund as a projected expense like we do would equate to 12 months divided by $400 so approximately $33.33 a month or round it to $34 a month to be saved.

By the end of the year you will have saved your $400 and there will be no need for extra grocery expenses on top of your regular food budget.

This year we saved $35 a month for 12 months which will net us $420 extra to spend if needed for groceries, drinks and other kitchen necessities above our grocery budget of $300 a month.

  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $385 Saved

If you managed to squeeze it all in to your monthly grocery expenses without a Christmas reserve fund then you are a super smart thrifty shopper or have a big enough food budget to accommodate that.

Keep in mind that not everyone has extra freezer space either to stockpile food or baked goods made in advance which is why a Christmas reserve fund might come in handy.

We just couldn’t do it on a $300 a month grocery budget even though we weren’t even home for close to two weeks over the holidays.

I think this year being home may prove differently as we have less to buy but going away visiting others for the holidays can certainly add up.

At the beginning of 2019 I will report back our food and drink expenses for 2018 to see how our 2019 Christmas reserve budget will look like.

So, there is the Christmas reserve fund explained for everyone who was curious what it was and how to save for it. May your grocery shopping for the holidays take on a whole new meaning when you have the money saved to spend for it.

Discussion: What other ways can you save money on food and drink for the Christmas holidays without stressing your monthly food budget?

November 2018 Grocery Game Challenge

Join the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) but before you do you must read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule which includes new prizes!

Last Shop from October – Food Odours And Low-Cost Ways To Rid Of Them

2018 Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings or that you would like to track on your own)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Optimum Points to Spend: 3,600,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 4 x Sealtest 2% milk 4L bags $4.27

Total out-of-pocket $17.08


  • Christie Bacon Dippers Crackers sale $1.99
  • 2 x Astro Vanilla Yogurt sale 2/$5.00
  • 2 x Black Diamond Cheese Bars $4.48 each $8.96
  • Iogo Strawberry Pineapple Yogurt 2/$5
  • Fuji Apples $3.48
  • Delicious Red Apples $3.40
  • Bananas $1.07

Total out-of-pocket $28.90-$7.92 left from stockpile for cheese and milk= $20.98

Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $300.00-$6.10 overage Oct $293.90
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $385 Saved
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $13.24
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $344.25
  • Total spent this week: $20.98
  • Total spent so far this month: $309.74
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: -$9.74
  • Total left to spend for the month: -$9.74
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $275.79 + June $271.88 +July $257.76 +August $342.74 + September $255.69+ October $306.10+ November $309.74 + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We went a bit over budget this month but managed to pick up some great deals along the way. Next month is December which means we will have a $375 budget for Christmas food plus our regular grocery budget and stockpile for the month.

Whether we use it all depends on how our Christmas rolls out but it’s not looking as good as planned right now. It’s been a rough year and perhaps lots of healing needs to be done first.


Free Money Saving Tools 2018

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists created to get us on track working towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2018

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 6 years to create.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

2018 Coupons and Coupon Apps

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money.

Related: Find all the latest coupon apps in Canada right here>> Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!! You can also sign up for PineCone Canada and $3 completing surveys and checking out products before they hit the shelves!

Walmart Grocery is seriously the best! Order fresh groceries and more online, and Walmart will load your car for you… free! How easy is that? Here’s $10 to try it. You can thank me later

Order your online groceries from Wal-Mart Canada and enjoy this $10 from Me To You for first time shoppers!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2018?

Plus check out these other hidden portals online to get more coupons!!

If any of the links below don’t open properly please report them to my email address or use comment form.

Grocery Game Challenge 2018 FAQ’s

  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated to reflect changes for the 2018 challenge year.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is prize payout?- I’ve changed the prize to yearly so I’ll be tracking everyone’s shop and draw accordingly for larger prize payouts.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month? Ideally you would want to have all your shops in by the end of the month for review in order to make improvements for the next.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget does not include such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014 we no longer included such items in our grocery budget so we could see our actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly.
  • Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon. Some of these coupons have an expiry date and others no expiry date so be sure to check.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2018!


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  1. Thank you so much for answering my question in a post! That was such as thrill this morning! 🙂

    And thanks to you as well Mary!

    Today is pay day, so I think I will start adding a line in my budget for this. I’ve already used some money from my food budget to make fruit cakes this year. I am hosting Christmas on my Dad’s side of the family. My sister and parents are contributing to the meal while will help but I still will be needing the extra money.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!


    1. Hi Julie,
      That’s brilliant that you were able to spot the post and read it!! Yes, I was waiting closer to Christmas to do a full blog post on the topic for you and it was great that Mary chimed in as well. 🙂 Lots of super duper ideas for next years budget that’s for sure.

  2. Mr CBB,

    Many moons ago when I was a single gal in an apartment alone, just me and my dog, I found Christmas a very hard time of year. I couldn’t afford to splash money around and buy treats for myself nor others. The first Christmas I had on my own was downright depressing. It was right then that I decided NEVER AGAIN and I started my Christmas Reserve fund. I never again wanted to feel like I was completely unable to celebrate, share the treats of the holiday season or be supportive of a friend in need. The holiday season comes with expectations both our own and those from others. The last thing I needed was to feel guilty that I couldn’t participate.

    Some years I didn’t spend as much as others on my little celebration and the leftover funds could be used to brighten the holiday for someone else. Hubby is on vacation again starting on Friday so this is a year we are using our vacation savings for holiday season food treats, splurges & meals out. In fact yesterday I arrange a January 1st luncheon with my Dad and his wife. That leaves a nice sized holiday reserve and we were able to use to add a little something to the holiday season for a couple of our friends. Our friend, Donna Pierce and her husband, received their parcel yesterday and are now enjoying an assortment of loose teas with a couple of nice new holiday themed mugs. I wanted to share a little warmth with them this holiday season – it has been a long, hard year building their new home themselves in their 70’s! Our other parcel has been delivered with strict instructions that it is not to be opened by our friend, Colleen Knudsen, her husband and son, until Dec 24th. The thought behind that gift is adding a little fun to their family holiday. Colleen, if you are reading this…that’s your second clue…1. it is not food and 2. it is just for fun. LOL 🙂

    Were it not for our reserve funds, I could not have managed to send either parcel. I save up all year to be able to play Secret Santa for a couple of dear folks. I love the feeling that in some small way that I get to be part of their holidays. So Mr CBB, if there are reserve funds left at the end of your holiday season, I challenge you to use them to brighten the holidays for a couple of additional folks next year.

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