Most of us mistakenly believe we have all our expenses covered when developing our Christmas Budget. But believe me, when I tell you, it’s easy to forget all those “little” things that make their way into our carts. You know what I mean – all those hidden costs of Christmas that typically break our budget wide open!
The Hidden Costs of Christmas
There’re so many costs that threaten to blow your Christmas budget if you’re not careful.
In early November you should start setting up your Christmas Budget.
The holidays are filled with never-ending temptations to spend, spend, spend. However, with a well-planned budget, you can manage your finances without skimping on the fun of the season or dipping into your savings account.
When preparing your budget, it’s important to look beyond the obvious. Anticipating every possible cost so to ensure you’ll stay out of debt. Here’s a list of commonly overlooked expenses with my personal strategies on how to avoid these hidden costs of Christmas altogether.
1. Gift wrap
We have a little rule in our house: when you can, put it in a gift bag and don’t write on the attached tag this way you can reuse the bag year after year. Now you only have to pay for tissue paper you can get for $1.00 per pack at the Dollar Store. If you do need to wrap a gift, try using paper bags, or newspaper for a different look, then decorate with ribbon and bows.
Greeting cards can get very expensive particularly if you customize them and have an extensive list. Save on greeting cards and by sending a personalized eCard for free from sites like AmericanGreetings.com or better yet make your own on Picmonkey.com
If you’re planning on sending holiday greeting cards, don’t forget the postage. For a regular sized card, you’re looking at 49 cents per stamp and even more, if you make a mistake and buy an odd sized card. While this doesn’t seem like much, if you’re sending upwards of 100 cards you’ll need to factor into your budget an additional $50 just for postage.
Between the shopping, parties, events, and festivities that don’t include the kids, you could seriously be missing a huge line item when it comes to your Christmas budget.
Since most families may share similar needs, consider joining forces with other parents in the area to help each other out with watching the kids. This way child care costs won’t have a stranglehold on your holiday budget.
5. Holiday Parties
You get the invite, and you’re excited to attend the party. But if you’re not careful it could cost you big time, and if it’s not included in your budget, it will be a big problem. The dress, shoes, handbag, not to mention the hostess gift can run you upwards of $200. Make sure if you’re invited to a big holiday celebration you include the costs that go along with that good time!
I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist Christmas decorations, and in the days before I used a budget, I would rack up some serious cash spending money on decorating the house. It never fails, you need five new strings of lights, a few new tree ornaments; the ribbon needs replacing and you have to buy those lanterns for the front porch. Oh, and of course don’t forget the cost of the tree and wreaths. When said and done, this could blow your budget big time if you fail to plan for these expenses.
7. Shipping charges
Online shopping is convenient but can become costly if you’re paying for delivery. Opt for free site-to-store shipping to dodge delivery fees or sign up for a free trial of two-day shipping services like Amazon Prime.
Also, there’s Free Shipping Day on December 18 when hundreds of retailers will offer free shipping with no minimum and guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Avoid return shipping fees using PayPal as they’re offering free shipping both ways. Get more smart shipping tips here.
8. Restocking Fees
Many retailers will charge a restocking fee on appliances and electronic returns. This could result in 15% of the total cost of the item and is a huge waste of money. Make sure you read the return policy before you make a purchase and don’t buy on impulse.
If you do make a purchase keep all original packaging material and don’t open the box until you’re 10% sure you are going to keep the item.
9. Airline Extras
The airlines have mastered the art of charging you for everything and anything related to a flight. Keep this in mind when shopping for airfare. Remember to include extra fees for checked or overweight bags, in-flight entertainment, extra legroom, early boarding, carry-on bags, and food and water you’ll purchase at the airport. These costs could add $100 per person to our trip.
10. Extra Food Costs for Guests
The holidays arrive and so does the out of town family. Your typical food budget for your family of four is now ramped up to feed an additional number of guests and with that the extra costs. Shop smart for and start looking now for discounts on popular breakfast foods you can stockpile. Head to warehouse stores if you can get a better price per unit shopping in bulk.
Create your budget and include these hidden holiday costs so your budget doesn’t break the bank this Christmas.