Holiday Budgeting: Have you thought of Everything?
While the holiday season is about good cheer, celebration and merriment, there is always a price tag associated with much of what goes on during the weeks that constitute the holiday season.
While you may have already budgeted for your holiday gift shopping (and if you are really organized, you may have already sprung your plan into action) there are numerous other events and activities that will require budgetary allocation. Don’t forget about all of these little items, because they can really add up! Your best bet to staying on track is to anticipate and to plan accordingly.
What is so great about the holiday season is that it gives us a chance to reconnect with old friends and family, by way of holiday wishes through cards.
Cards can be expensive, though- so watch for sales and stock up (If you are really clever, this is an item you’ll grab in a Boxing Day sale in preparation for next year).
In our digital age, more and more people are favouring electronic greetings- which are more cost effective (and time saving!). You can spread your goodwill to dozens with a simple click. A wide variety of e-greetings are available, some of which are even free.
Postage for sending out greeting cards falls into this category- as well as sending any parcels to out-of-town gift recipients. Depending on the speed with which you need something delivered (not to mention the size and shape of what you are shipping), shipping can be very expensive, so include some funds in your budgeting to cover it off.
There are restrictions around delivery times as well, so make sure that you leave yourself enough time to get your goods from point A to point B. Essentially, the faster you need it, the more you will have to pay.
It is one thing to set aside money to purchase gifts- but don’t forget the wrappers! Gift wrap can be costly, and should be included in the overall budget.
Dollar stores and discount stores are usually your best bets for cheap gift wrap. If you are creative, make your own, with plain brown wrappers and paints or stamps.
While clothing is a budget line item year-round, this season often calls for special attire. Do you plan to attend company or neighbourhood functions? What is the expected dress? Often Holiday parties are semi-formal.
Save yourself some cash by going shopping in your friend’s closet- or by buying a basic outfit (like a classic black dress)- which can be modified to serve different purposes at different functions.
Between the parties and all of the extra running around that this season entails, child care costs are invariably higher- and be sure to be mindful of that when you are setting money aside.
Cut down on child care costs by swapping care time between friends. Consider taking a day off of work as a vacation day while the kids are in school to go do all of your running around. Not only do you save on child care, stores (and parking lots) are less crowded- meaning you get far more done in a shorter period of time.
One of the most heartwarming parts of the holiday season is how a focus shifts to those who are less fortunate. If contributing to charity is on your list, make sure to include it in your overall budget plan.
Charity, of course, is not limited to financial donations (nor to the Holiday season)! Many organizations (from shelters, to hospitals and disease-specific foundations, to food programs) all welcome appreciatively the hard work of volunteers to make their initiatives successful.
Are you visiting out-of-towners? How are you getting there? Where are you staying? Don’t forget extra expenses like gas, food and possibly hotel rooms as you make your Holiday tour.