Holiday Expenses You Are Forgetting to Budget
The holidays are a time of celebration and excess. Most avid budgeters take the time in October or November to alter their spending plan to account for things like gifts and decorations — but that isn’t even close to all the extra expenses you will rack up over the next couple months.
If you feel like you are forgetting something on your holiday budget, here are a few categories of expenditures that you might have neglected to plan for:
Your mind and heart might be with your loved ones enjoying the festivities, but your head and body are still far away. There’s no place like home for the holidays, and no matter how far away you roam, you will need to pay money to get back to where you hope to celebrate with family and friends.
Travel typically isn’t that difficult to budget for because travel-related expenses are relatively easy to predict. If you are flying home, you will need to research the cost of a plane ticket and any related fees, like checked bags or rental cars. If you are driving home, you should calculate the cost of gas for your trip and estimate any meals and snacks you will need along the way. If your drive is long, you might also want to add in the cost of motel rooms.
Regardless of how you journey home, you might also want to factor in the costs associated with shipping gifts and other belongings that won’t fit into your car or carry-on. Then, you can ensure your holiday cheer arrives without breaking your back or your budget.
Almost every family (to include found families) have holiday traditions that take the form of group activities. Some families go to drive-through light displays; some families make crafts at home — everyone’s holiday takes a slightly different shape to accommodate traditions, interests, affordability, accessibility and more.
While some family activities are more or less free, there are quite a few holiday activities that don’t come cheap. You should think about the activities that your family typically participates in and try to factor those expenses into your budget. You should also try to track spending related to holiday activities, so you can get a better idea of how much budget space to allocate next year.
Love them or hate them, work parties are an almost unavoidable element of the holiday season. Though employers tend to shoulder most of the expenses of these shindigs, you might have to devote some amount of your budget to expenses like a workplace Secret Santa or a holiday potluck dish. Should your workplace host an incredibly posh holiday fete, you might want to allocate budget for a nice gown or tuxedo.
If you are new to your current place of employment, you can ask your coworkers what the typical holiday expectations are. Then, you should get a sense for appropriately estimating your work-related holiday budget.
Finally, holidays are nothing if they are not a fantastic excuse to feast. The holiday season should be filled with feasts — but unfortunately, that food usually doesn’t come for free. If you are buying and preparing a feast or two for friends and family, you need to budget in the costs of the ingredients and tools needed to put your feast together.
The reason you should separate your feast-related expenses from your regular groceries is that your feast is a special occasion that doesn’t occur every month. As a result, you are likely to spend much more money acquiring a larger quantity of larger and higher-quality goods. Keeping your feast in its own category will help you better understand how much you are spending on feasts alone.
Even if you don’t go overboard with gifts and décor, the holidays can bust your budget. You need to be careful to calculate all the extraneous expenses of the season, which include travel, activities, parties and feasts — as well as any unique traditions you celebrate that might not be included in this list. Your budget shouldn’t take a holiday break; if you plan your spending and saving even during the holidays, you should stay on the right path to financial success.