Guest post from Alaya of Hope+Cents
You pride yourself on that fact that you are frugal. You budget, you coupon, you read this blog. No one can stretch a dollar more than you… which is the very reason that after carefully planning your budget, nothing frustrates you more than when several unplanned expenses pop up!
When it comes to budgeting for the holidays, it’s easy to remember the big things, but what about all the little expenses that come along with the holidays? Even when we participate in the same activities and incur the same holiday expenses year after year, it’s easy to forget to plan for them because they do only occur once a year.
As you do your planning this season, keep these 15 holiday expenses we tend to forget to budget, in mind.
1. Teacher Gifts
If you have young children in school, then you’re familiar with the annual holiday teacher gift. Whether you’re contributing to the class gift or prefer to give something on your own, remember to plan for this expense. If your kids participate in sports or take lessons, don’t forget their coach or instructor!
2. Holiday Tipping
If you typically tip your school bus driver, newspaper carrier, housekeeper, or anyone else that provides a regular service for you, remember to budget for this expense.
3. Office Gifts
Does your office do an annual gift exchange? Do you plan to give presents to your co-workers or assistant? Plan ahead this year!
4. Higher Grocery Expenses
Are you hosting Thanksgiving? Do you plan to give baked goods as gifts or participate in the neighborhood cookie swap? Those expenses add up. Be sure to pad your grocery budget to accommodate them.
5. Additional Eating Out & Entertainment
If you’re likely to eat out or sneak in a movie in the midst of your shopping, remember to pad your entertainment and eating out budget during the holiday season.
6. Decorations & Tree Trimming
If you purchase a tree annually or want to replace some decorations this year, be sure to estimate these costs beforehand.
7. Charitable Giving
Remember to plan for Thanksgiving drives, toy drives, the annual offering at your church, or any additional opportunities for charitable giving you usually participate in.
8. Holiday Clothing
If you need to purchase something to wear for a holiday event, be sure to factor in this expense.
Don’t overlook the expense of mailing off your Christmas or holiday cards and gifts!
10. Holiday Activities
Remember to plan for any costs related to the holiday concerts you will go to or the holiday lights you plan to see, etc. If you have kids, be sure to include costs for any gift exchanges or other activities they will participate in.
11. Additional Gas Expenses
It’s easy to remember to budget and plan for holiday travel if you’re hopping on a plane, but maybe not as obvious if you’re simply driving a few hours away. Be sure to increase your gas budget for any holiday-related road trips.
12. Host Gifts
You’ve accepted a handful of invites to parties and dinners, and you’ve already budgeted for the food you plan to make. But, if you normally like to bring a little gift for your hosts, then make sure you plan for that ahead of time.
13. Stocking Stuffers
If you traditionally stuff stockings, then you know the cost of doing so can quickly add up. Don’t get caught off guard this year. Build the cost of stocking stuffers into your budget.
14. Holiday Clearance Sales
Do you love waiting until after Christmas to shop for clothing and other items? Scoring 70% off holiday items at Target is an excellent way to keep next year’s expenses low; just remember to plan for it.
15. Post-Holiday Expenses
Will you need storage bins for the new ornaments you bought this year? Do you have to pay for the removal of your Christmas tree? Don’t forget any expenses you may incur after the holidays.
Build In a Cushion
So much goes on during the holiday season. Even with the most careful planning, the likelihood of something popping up is quite high. I like to prepare by setting aside a reasonable dollar amount for miscellaneous expenses and activities. That way we can accept that last-minute invite to our neighbor’s party without a second thought!
Also, help yourself out next year by keeping a record of what you actually spent this holiday season. When the holidays are over, add up what you spent by category and keep it in a memo on your phone, notebook, or a spreadsheet that you can revisit next year.
Keep the holidays fun and festive this year (and every year) by budgeting for potential expenses and leaving a little room for the unexpected!
Do you forget to budget these expenses? What other holiday costs do you tend to overlook?
Alaya Linton blogs at Hope+Cents. Her own financial journey led her to pay off $74,000 of debt in two years and she is passionate about helping others do the same. Through her blog and one-on-one coaching, she helps others take control of their finances so they can be debt-free.