My Christmas List

The folks at the Interac® Association just posted survey results stating that two-thirds of Canadians will set a holiday budget this year.

Spending bias aside, the survey turned up some interesting numbers:

  • 96% percent of consumers said they would take necessary measures to stay on budget: buy items on sale (well duh!), shopping early (79%), shopping online (62%), make home-made gifts (38%).
  • 96% of respondents said that they would go over budget if they found “that special gift” for their spouse, parent, child or themselves.
  • 25% of respondents indicated they would buy a gift for their pet while only 8% indicated that they would buy a gift for their boss.

Priorities, right?

Seems everyone and their mother is blogging about the importance of celebrating the holidays on a budget, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I need to fess up… This is the first year I’m actually attempting to budget my way though Christmas. Every year up until now, I’ve just spent my way through Christmas – not to excess, mind you (I had student loans to pay off), but never with any sense of the damage until the chaos was over and the bills started arriving on my doorstep.

This year, I have decided to transfer my finely-honed budgeting skills over to my Christmas shopping.

The List…

My Christmas list is on an Excel spreadsheet – you know Excel…that program on your computer that you never use but you think does math or something… I’ve uploaded the spreadsheet to my Google Docs account so that I can access The List anywhere – on my phone, at home, the office, etc. Very handy.

I have my list broken down by person and itemizes everything I would theoretically like to get each person, where to get the item at the best price, and how much it actually costs (factoring in sales taxes and shipping, if applicable). My spreadsheet isn’t just for gifts, either! I’ve included lines for wrapping paper, cards and postage, decorations, wine for house parties, the office Secret Santa, and any extra charitable giving.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I’ve set up my spreadsheet to add up the dollar signs and tell me what I’m going to be spending on each individual person and my grand holiday total. Once I know what everything costs, I can start to scale back based on the amount I’ve determined I can afford. Working with a spreadsheet helps keep all the information in one place and helps me easily add and delete items. If the item puts me over budget, then it gots-ta go.  It also helps solve the dilemma of getting someone one large gift or several smaller ones. Once I’ve made my gift selections and the math checks out, then it’s time to start shopping…the part I dread the most. At least I’ll be shopping with a list. Oy.

What are your holiday budgeting strategies?

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avatarAuthor Bio ~ Ken (54 Posts)

Ken is a 30 year old professional, living in Toronto, Ontario. After finishing university with over $25k in student debt and zero financial literacy, Ken decided it was time to take control and start building his financial foundation. Inspired by the no-nonsense approach of Gail Vaz-Oxlade and other Canadian personal financial gurus, Ken was able to finally clear his debts and start focusing on his future.

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9 Responses to “My Christmas List”

  1. Hey Ken. Great post! I have a spreadsheet too but, instead of using Excel, I use Google “Drive” which used to be Google “Docs”, I think. Anyway, having the list in Google Drive, I can take it with me on my Smartphone, keep it up-to-date and know when I’m overdoing it.

    Also – I got smart this year and, beginning on “Black Friday”, I took advantage of aLOT on online deals and started shopping online. Nothing like having the post office do all the legwork for you.


  2. A great article Ken!

    My hubby and I have realized that the main way we are saving money this Christmas is that Grandma won’t be with us. It sounds terrible, and I do miss my Mommy a lot. She moved in with us when I went back to university and helped with the kids (I couldn’t have done it without her). After university, we moved to a new city for 2 new jobs and incorporated an in-law suite for Grandma. The kids loved having her at home, she was our emergency child care back-up AND she had flexibility and freedom to do her own thing. The down side was, she went WAAAAAY overboard on Christmas presents for the kids. And we felt we had to keep up.

    I need to clarify that we are not people who always feel the need to compete with others. In fact, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are teaching our children to think for themselves, make decisions based on what it best for them . . . we own a 20+ year old TV and do not have cable, just as a snapshot for how we don’t try to keep up with others.

    BUT, when it is Christmas morning and presents abound under the tree, well, if the vast majority are from Grandma, we felt gentle but constant pressure to buy more. So we did.

    This past year, my sister-in-law died suddenly, leaving my brother as a single parent with 3 children. Mom moved to be closer to him to help with the grandchildren. It was an emotional decision, but it has been the right one for a variety of reasons.

    As Christmas approached, hubby and I realized that there were very few items we wanted to buy the boys. We also realized it was OK to have fewer presents for Christmas morning.

    Budgeting for shopping is something I have wanted to do for along time, but it hasn’t happened. We may be getting closer now . . .

  3. I leave for the states tomorrow for 4 days of shopping. I intend to get about 95% of it done, I do have a “loose budget” – an overall amount I will spend and ideas on dollar amounts for certain ppl. I set an amount of $ aside for xmas prezzies each month, including for the hotel stay – we also use this as a “mini break” :)

    Let cha’ know how we did upon return :D

  4. This year I gave gas cards to all my family that I mail out gifts. I hope it helps with their post Christmas bills, plus I find the clothing cards ect.. just means you have to dig out a little more money to the store. Plus, I’m including services this year as part of your gift so I’m cutting back.

  5. avatar Victoria R Says:
    December 12, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Good reminder, Ken, that budgeting skills are for the whole year. I was tempted to buy an extra gift for someone and, right at the cash, put it back.

  6. Good day Ken

    In reference to your Interac survey; I have a question! We have a cat but our cat doesn’t have owners it has staff. Should we be in the 25% group or the 8% group?

  7. Great post — I love Excel!

    I have a budget spreadsheet, an investment totals spreadsheet, and one for rewards/points for my rewards programs, to make sure I make good timely use of them.

    What’s great is that you can have a budget column and an “actuals” column, so you can compare them and plan more accurately in the future.

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