You’re going to have to look at the dollars and cents at some point. It may as well be now when you haven’t spent it all yet. A little extra planning up front can help reduce the amount of money you might spend during the last two months of the year.
These are three areas that account for the bulk of holiday spending along with a few things we came up with to help you understand where you’ll spend and how you might be able to save. Money stress is one of the big ones. How can you help your future self feel better about how you spent the money you had?
Parties at work, parties at the neighbor’s house, parties at your house. There are a lot of parties during the holiday season. Whether or not you’re hosting them, the costs can really add up.
Update your calendar with all the events you know of right now.
Make a list of expected expenses for each event. Don’t forget things like clothes you might buy to attend an event, especially if you end up buying something that you don’t expect to wear again or very frequently. Those glow-in-the-dark New Year’s Eve glasses are awesome for that party, not so awesome on January 31st.
Total it up.
If it’s too much, look at your list of expenses and find a few things that could be taken off the list or reduced.
The devil is in the details with this one, right? If you buy this for Tommy, you have to buy it for Brian, Jerome, and Lee. Oh, and don’t forget the batteries. If you already have ideas for gifts, that’s great. If you don’t, you might be able to save a little money by looking for experiences and activities rather than things.
One my favorite gifts is going to the movies with my family. The movies are expensive enough, but they’re still not as much as I might have spent on individual gifts for everyone. The key is to find an activity the person will like.
Add these items to the budget you started in the Events section.
If you’ll be traveling to see family and friends, you’ll also be noticing how quickly those plane tickets, tanks of gas, and tolls add up. Some travel may be unexpected or minimal, like a quick trip across town to a friend’s house, but a lot of it is probably easy to predict. Add them to your list.
When you finish looking at these areas, think about what else you might spend money on this holiday season. The more thorough you can be, the better. Then look at where your money could go. Does it match your priorities for how you’d like to spend your holidays? If not, what would you change?
If saving money is something you want or need to do, you’ll thank yourself later when the dust settles and you still have some money in the bank.