Christmas creep is a thing. It used to be that it wasn’t socially acceptable to decorate or listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Now, once Labor Day has wrapped up, many people turn on their Michael Bublé Christmas Pandora station and pull out the mistletoe and garland.

While we claim neutrality on such contentious issues, we do encourage saving for Christmas even before the leaves change colors.

Over the years, Christmas has become synonymous with spending money. According to the National Retail Foundation, consumers said in 2018 that they spent an average of $1,000 during the holiday season. It’s probably no surprise that much of that spending for Americans takes place on a credit card. According to Magnify Money’s 2018 holiday debt survey, last year Americans added an average of $1,230 in holiday debt.

To avoid this debt, but still have the memorable Christmas you desire, we encourage you to start saving now!

Start by Making a List

To plan how much you’ll likely spend this holiday season, make a list of all your expenses from last year. We suggest looking at your bank statement from October, November, and December. Make sure to include the cost of:

  • Gifts
  • Groceries
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Charitable giving

Adjust for this Any Changes

Adjust the estimated cost for any changes related to this year’s holiday season. For example, do you have a new grandchild to buy a gift for or are you hoping to take a trip up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge? If so, factor that cost into what you’ll likely spend.

Divide by the Number of Paychecks You’ll Have

If, for example, you’ll have four paychecks between now and Christmas, divide the total holiday expense amount by four. This will tell you how much you’ll need to save in each paycheck to have the Christmas you want without taking on any holiday debt.

Reflect and Adjust

If the numbers all line-up and you’re happy, great! However, if you know your budget won’t accommodate the savings amount you need, make an informed decision to cut expenses or take on debt responsibly.