Have you always budgeted for Christmas gifts, decorating, and the holiday meal, but you seem to always find yourself with an empty wallet come New Year’s? Here are some tips to help you plan ahead for less apparent expenses and how to save on these Holiday expenses!
What exactly do I mean by lesser planned or hidden costs?
The things we often overlook, are not necessarily “hidden costs”, they are simply things we tend to forget to account for. They may be items we usually buy month to month, but during the holidays we buy more. Below I will share what some of those things are and how to help cover those costs without having a huge impact on your December budget.
Besides gifts and food, you may be wondering what are some of the other things we may forget to budget for.
My Top 6 Hidden Holiday Expenses
This is an expense you will encounter if you are shopping by catalog or online. Watch for deals on shipping, many retailers offer Free Shipping, but not all do. The key here is to add the shipping cost to the total you have budgeted for that particular gift or person you are buying for. It may not seem like much, but if you are paying $10 or more on shipping and you shop at 4 or 5 online retailers, that is an additional $40 or $50 you are spending from your Holiday budget.
You may plan to have friends or family over for a potluck, but remember, you have more cost than just food. Extra napkins, plates, extra loads in the dishwasher, etc. Drinks are also a big expense, especially if you are serving alcohol. Figure out a budget and stick to it, or ask people to bring what they plan to drink.
You have the gifts purchased, but you need to wrap them up. The costs of paper, boxes, and bags can add up. People spend an average of $50 or more on wrapping supplies each year during the holidays.
Cards and Stamps:
This is one that can be high and many people don’t think about the money until they are dishing it out last minute. Tips below on how to save on stamps. If you haven’t picked up cards from last year’s sales, then be prepared to pay a good amount for cards last minute.
We all tend to drive more around the holidays. Between more trips to the shopping mall and visits to friends and family, you could be adding another couple hundred dollars to your gas budget in the month of December. This can be much higher depending on where you are travelling. There are many tips on saving on gas in our Road Tripping 101: How to Save On Gas blog.
Interest on Credit Card Purchases:
Credit cards can be a great tool to help this time of year, BUT you need the plan to pay it back off right away. If you use your credit card for online shopping, then gas, and maybe extra groceries, you need to pay it off quickly. Or you may just increase your spending again by another 20% in interest.
How can you plan ahead for covering some of the additional costs without it dramatically affecting your monthly spending?
Starting in January is ideal, and will cause the least impact on your bank account in December each year!
Many people find it hard to put money aside each month. Here are a few ways to do it, that may make it a little easier.
Have a change jar that you seal the lid on (do not dig into it anytime during the year, leave it for December ONLY. At the end of the day, every day, empty your pockets and change purse into it. Simple, and it really adds up! Try the 52-Week Challenge Jar.
Buy gift cards throughout the year to put towards your December spending. If you go to the grocery store 2X per month, add only a $5 gift card to your order each trip, by December that will be $110 in grocery gift cards you will have to cover additional costs. You can do the same every time you buy gas. If you or your kids have favourite stores to shop at, do the same at those stores. This will help by spreading out the cost of gifts throughout the year as well. It is amazing how quickly the gift cards add up!
Saving on stamps:
To help with the cost of shipping cards, do the same as above and purchase a few each month. Also, on occasion, you will see stamps on sale for 15% off. Or buying them at Costco is also a little cheaper if you want to buy a roll of 100 stamps. Watch CanadaPost.ca for specials as well. Old sets of “P” stamps go on sale often throughout the year. They are valid for whatever the current reg postage rate is.
Here are some more ideas and tips for planning ahead for Holiday Expenses.
Cut Back! Easier said than done, right?
I will be honest and say, I remember very few of the gifts I have received over the years, especially as a child. What I do remember are the family meals, hot chocolate in my parent’s kitchen after an afternoon building a snow fort with my dad, and the caroling party or sledding party I went to with my university friends. We remember the memories of the time we spent with others, not the “stuff” we received.
It is very hard to cut back on the gifts when you just want to give your kids everything, but I assure you, they will not notice. They want YOU more than anything. Just remember to keep it fun, and exciting and enjoy every minute you have together. Most of us spend more time in the presence of family over the Holidays than any other time of year, so BE THERE, BE PRESENT, enjoy, and don’t worry about trying to impress those you love, that’s not why they love you!
Happy savings and if you can’t start budgeting right away, make a plan to start a holiday budget in the New Year for the following Christmas.