You know Christmas is on December 25, right? Of course you do. Everybody knows that.
But have you been planning for it? Or are you going to wing it the week before Christmas and slap down a bunch of plastic?
Oh, and don’t forget that there are a couple more holidays coming up before Christmas, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. These three (plus Easter) are the most expensive holidays of the year.
With all this holiday spending on the horizon, you need to have a serious spending plan in place. It doesn’t matter if you add extra line items to your budget or group them into existing categories. The important thing is that you’re financially ready when the celebrations arrive. Here are six holiday expenses to start budgeting for now:
1. The Parties
Oh man, the parties. You’ve got the annual Halloween shindig. You’ve got the Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve got all of those Christmas parties. Prepare your budget—and your dance moves—accordingly.
2. The Food
Turkeys aren’t cheap. Neither is that beef tenderloin you like to cook at Christmas. And what about that 900-ounce grab bag of Snickers you put outside your front door on Halloween?
3. The Gifts
This one’s obvious, right? Of course you need gifts. But how much money have you already put aside for those gifts? Christmas creeps closer every day, and you promised Junior he’d have that deluxe Thomas train set this year.
4. The Family
For a lot of people, the holidays mean one thing: family. It’s Uncle Earl and Cousin Joe and Aunt Dot, who always ask you for a loan. Problem is, you’re trying to get out of debt and simply can’t swing it. Go ahead and prepare to say no to the family moochers now.
5. The Travel
If you’re flying but haven’t yet booked your tickets, do it now or it’s going to cost you. If you’re driving, start thinking about what you’ll need to make it happen, like gas and snacks for the road.
Not sure how much gas money you need? Divide the mileage to your destination by your car’s MPG. Once you have that number, multiply it by the current cost of gas per gallon, and that’s your gas budget! Sure, the price of gas may change, but that number should give you a good estimate.
6. The Giving
Wait a minute. . . . Haven’t we already talked about gifts? Yep. But this one’s different. If the holidays are all about giving and making a difference, have you thought about tithing, charities and volunteer work you can do this season? Even if you don’t have any extra room in your budget, make sure you go out and help others with your time. As Dave Ramsey always says, nobody has ever become poor by giving.