According to USA Today, Americans are expected to spend an average of $1007 this Holiday season, almost 2/3 of that being on gifts and the rest, well….other stuff. We need to remember that there are a lot of items that AREN'T gifts that affect our wallet. It's so easy to get caught up in the gift part, that we forget the others and still end up blowing our budgets. Take a look at this quick list to make sure that you're thinking about everything when creating your spending plan. It's not too late to alter your budget for November and perfectly timed for your December spending plan.
1. Cost of baking goods. It's something about the season that most of us love to bake and it all adds up. You might want an extra category if you're doing cookie donations or just to up your grocery budget appropriately.
2. Preparing the holiday meals. If you're hosting, this might be a large cost but even if you're attending, it's always proper to ask what you can bake, make, bring, etc. Make sure to factor this in and there's NO shame if you're hosting to ask your guests to each bring a dish. It helps to cut down on your time invested, your money invested and the stress.
3. Budget up for a higher electric bill if you're big on decorating and lighting up the house inside and out.
4. Christmas cards, stamps, shipping expenses if you have to send anything UPS/FedEx, etc. If you're doing family photo cards, check out Costco, Shutterfly and Snapfish for the best deals.
5. Wrapping paper, tags, tape....that stuff adds up!
6. Gas for traveling. Not even just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but all the holiday parties and gatherings for the next 2 months. You'll likely be getting in the car and visiting friends and family several more days a month than normal. I'd budget in for an extra tank or two.
7. Stocking Stuffers. We tend to think about the big expenses and toys, but don't forget about the small ones. My advice is to set a limit on stockings. Say $10 each or $20 each and put it in a cash envelope so you can't go overboard.
8. Unexpected Gifts. Don’t allow the frenzy of someone unexpectedly giving you a gift to allow you to go out and splurge on just anything that you can find. I suggest that you keep a few hand soaps, body lotions or something equally neutral on hand for those occasions.
Remember, you’re the boss of your budget and you get to decide where your money goes. Make a plan, execute that plan and adapt that plan accordingly.