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How to Avoid Holiday Budget Busters
content adapted by Katie Cullum
Everyone wants to be merry and bright this holiday season, not stressed about finances. That’s why a holiday budget can be pretty useful. But sometimes we forget about some expenses, or we just don’t think those last-minute gifts will bust the budget.
Here are some commonly missed budget items that could be stretching your finances to the limit.
- Transportation and gas – we may forget about fuel costs or other costs of traveling (convenience store stops). Even going shopping in the next big town could really wreck your gas budget. Plan your shopping and your travel costs. Limit trips.
- Holiday decorations – did you buy a new tree that wasn’t in the budget? The costs have really gone up. But you don’t have to buy all the decorations! Use what you have – like greenery! Or just use older decorations in new ways – my mom put all the old glass ornaments in a big glass bowl and we use it to decorate the kitchen. And sometimes, simple is better!
- Taxes and gift wrap – Do you reuse those gift bags? We have some with names on them already that we reuse! Be creative with wraps – newspapers, fabric scraps, or give the kids some paper bags to decorate! Do you plan for sales tax? Make sure to leave a few extra dollars to cover taxes.
- Unexpected or last-minute gifts can bust your budget. Don’t wait until the last minute to find gifts. If you can, keep a few generic items (that you hopefully find on sale!) like books bath soaps, gift cards, etc. to use as emergency gifts.
- Extra groceries and food – I always plan a little more in my grocery budget for November and December. We try to eat cheap in January! But your expenses can easily jump 20% during the holidays, just on food. Begin shopping early for the must-haves. Plan what you really need and avoid impulse buys. Instead of taking an expensive dessert, make a simple cake and decorate with powdered sugar (use Christmas cookie cutters to make patterns on the top of the cake). And try to plan meals at home instead of going out. Keep it simple (sandwiches, soup, chili, casseroles, etc.) and save the more elaborate meals for the actual holiday.
- Entertainment – if you don’t have a budget for going to see the Christmas shows, don’t go. Plan on trying out all the free things to do in Arkansas like looking at lights. Or plan an evening at home making cookies to eat (and give!) or popping popcorn and watching Christmas movies. You don’t have to spend a lot to have fun!
- What other budget busters do you try to avoid?!