General, Money-Saving Tips

Budgeting for Everything this Holiday Season

When it comes to setting your budget for the holidays, you might think you’re ahead of the game. You had your shopping lists in hand along with a plan of action for hitting the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and a clear budget on how much you’re spending on who. Sounds good on paper, but what about those little expenses that come along and always seem to add up and throw your entire holiday budget off its axis?

Little things add up, so with the holidays upon us, here are a few things to consider building into your budget sooner rather than later.

Added Gift Expenses

You might know what specific gifts you want to buy your family and friends and have a budget in mind based on the cost of those particular items. But have you factored additional expenses into that budget as well?

  • Postage: Let’s say you budget $50 for your Aunt Ida in Ohio. You buy her a couple of books that come to almost $50 even with taxes. But what about shipping them to Ohio? That could cost an additional $7-$25 depending on when and how you send them. If you have a lot of gifts to mail, postage can take a big chunk out of your budget.
  • Stocking Stuffers: You have three kids and you budget $150 each for their gifts. Did you remember to include the cost of stocking stuffers in that $150? Those little items can add up quickly and set your budget over the top. Just a seemingly small pile of items could average $20 -$30 per stocking. That’s almost an additional $100 added to your expenses.

Food Expenses

You budgeted what you need to spend on groceries for that big Holiday Dinner, but have you considered budgeting for the other heightened food expenses that often come with the holidays?

  • Cookie Swaps: Holiday cookies always sound like a great, cheap gift idea for friends or as an option to bring to holiday parties, but the cost of ingredients can add up very fast and preparing each plate of cookies can take a lot of your time. Time and money are at a premium during the holidays, so do your math to see if this truly is a cheaper gift option when all is said and done.
  • Dining Out: Take stock of additional dining out you might do around the holidays. Maybe you have friends back in town, office outings on your calendar or you choose to eat out while you’re on the town doing your shopping. Dining out is expensive. Build it into your budget now.

Other Expenses to Remember When Budgeting

There are a lot of additional, little things to remember and prepare for during the holidays, including;

  • Holiday tipping for those who provide a regular service to you
  • Small gifts for coworkers, teachers and party hosts
  • Charitable contributions you like to make at year end
  • Gas and travel expenses if you plan on hitting the road for the holidays

Everyone is different, so look back at what you spent last year and account for all of those little expenses. Use that info to better prepare your budget for this upcoming holiday season, and spend smartly.

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