Payday is coming up on Friday, and after that there are only four more paychecks before Christmas. (And if you celebrate Hanukkah, it is super early this year!) If you haven’t done a spectacular job of stashing cash for the holiday expenses, now is the time to seriously consider what this December is going to cost, and figure out how you are going to pay for it.
Step one is to list all the expenses of the holiday season. The first time I put it all together, I was shocked! There is so much to include and the grand total was huge! What sort of things need to be included?
- gift wrap, ribbon and tape
- teacher’s gifts
- tips for mailman, babysitter, etc.
- gift exchange items
- far away gifts
- postage to mail far away gifts
- immediate family gifts
- neighbors/friends gifts
- hostess gifts for holiday events
- extra holiday donations, such as a giving tree, the Salvation Army kettles, or a food donation
- new shoes or clothes
- party expenses if you host a party: food, beverages, and alcohol
- potlucks at work or social events
- baking supplies
- special meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
- extra babysitting
- holiday entertainment such as lights parades, Nutcracker ballet, etc.
- tree and lights
- holiday decorations
- plane tickets
- hotel rooms
- food while traveling
- extra gasoline for shopping and traveling
- pet sitting/boarding fees
Scary, huh? Fortunately, knowledge is power. Once you see it all laid out on paper, you can figure out where to cut costs, where you feel it is important to spend, and you are going to make it all happen. For me, making the list helped me to realize a few things. First, I can not wait until November and then expect to fund all of these expenses out of our regular monthly budget. It is too much! I have to save a little bit over the year to help make this all happen. Second, I had to cut back somewhere. For me, there were some easy cuts. If we figure out another plan for one night of babysitting, don’t spend a fortune to mail expensive packages, and scale back the gift giving just a little, we can save a few hundred dollars pretty quickly. (One year I spent more to mail packages than I spent on the gifts – not so smart.)
Spend a little time today tallying your holiday expenses, and you will be in a better place to deal with them over the next few months.