How To Create A Christmas Reserve Fund

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

If you struggle financially or want to plan your expenses during the holidays, consider setting up a Christmas Reserve Fund.

We’ve done this, and it makes our money situation come the holidays less stressful.

How To Create A Christmas Reserve Fund
How To Create A Christmas Reserve Fund

Why Create A Christmas Reserve Fund?

Christmas is glorious and costly, especially regarding food and drink, because it becomes the centerpiece of gatherings.

In the game of money, you must become a personal banker and reserve fund specialist to save money for future needs, whether long- or short-term.

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

This is simply creating awareness about planning 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 your monthly budget’s projected expenses over the years, but the reserve fund is slightly different.

I believe it was last year when Mary posted 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.

CBB Mailbag

Question – What is the 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.

What A Christmas Reserve Fund Entails

Below, Mary explains what her Christmas reserve fund entails, and to be honest, I think everyone who finds money tight over the holidays should 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 Holiday Receipts

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

As my mother-in-law seemed not to want to be in the kitchen as much as my sister-in-law, we all went grocery shopping to cook for Christmas, which included baked goods.

We often went 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 it wasn’t easy with kids in tow and sick in-laws,

My father-in-law did make his way to the LCBO to buy alcohol for mixed drinks and champagne for New Year’s, which was his contribution to the holiday celebrations.

I guess it became his tradition to ensure that everyone in the house, whether family or friends visiting, always had a drink.

The alcohol costs can be hundreds of dollars for those who like to host friends and family.

So, it is certainly something to consider when creating your Christmas reserve fund.

Thankfully, we kept all of our receipts to complete our monthly budget so we could 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, tracking that number is essential to calculate 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.

Christmas Reserve Fund Example

So, if your receipts for all your groceries and alcohol add 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 $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

Suppose you managed to squeeze it into your monthly grocery expenses without a Christmas reserve fund. In that case, you are a super-intelligent thrifty shopper or have a big enough food budget to accommodate that.

Different Holiday Circumstances

Remember that not everyone has extra freezer space to stockpile food or baked goods made in advance so a Christmas reserve fund might be useful.

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

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

So, the Christmas reserve fund is explained to everyone curious about 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 on it.

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

November 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

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)

  • Zweet -$0
  • Checkout51– $1.50

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Below are our numbers for grocery shopping this month.

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 the stockpile for cheese and milk= $20.98

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

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

We went over budget this month but picked up some great deals.

Next month is December so we will have a $375 budget for Christmas food plus our regular grocery budget and stockpile.

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

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

This budget 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.

We use it to budget and, in large part, a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years.

Free Money Saving Downloads are fantastic 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 our family budget spreadsheet—so many free resources at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

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

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 paper coupons?

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program, and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for excellent products or gift cards.

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.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty, and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget does not include items like shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap, etc. As of 2014, we no longer included such things in our grocery budget, so we could see our actual food numbers at the end of the year 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 and save money if you find items 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. Many great Canadian Couponing websites online share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.

Welcome To The Grocery Game Challenge

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

  • Where are you spending money?
  • How much money are you spending?
  • How much money are you 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 decided to take control of your grocery budget.

Now show me your shops, and let’s get started!

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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