6 Holiday Expenses to Budget for (Aside From Gifts)

The holidays are packed with opportunities to celebrate life, family, friends, and traditions. With increased family gatherings and celebratory occasions, the holidays tend to cost a little more than the rest of the year. 

Aside from holiday shopping for gifts, this time of year tends to bring unexpected expenses like travel costs and special meals. While you can keep your fingers crossed for a holiday miracle, it might be a better use of your time to budget for unexpected expenses

With the holiday season around the corner, you can get ahead by anticipating costly purchases. Check out the holiday spending tips below. 

Photo by Kari Shea

Photo by Kari Shea

5 holiday expenses you’re probably forgetting

Although many people put aside a little extra cash for gifts, there are additional expenses you’ll need to account for when budgeting for the holidays.

1. Travel

Going home to see the family this holiday season? Make sure you buy your plane tickets in advance, as they tend to get more expensive as your departure date nears. Additionally, calculate the cost of ground transportation when creating your holiday budget. 

Ridesharing at your holiday destination can add up. Make sure to cost compare different transportation options such as car rentals, Turo, ridesharing, trains and airport shuttles. Decide where you’ll splurge and what’s worth saving money on.

2. Holiday meals

Ah, food — one of the greatest joys of the holiday season. While home-cooked meals can cut costs, many families go out for celebratory meals. Make sure to have discussions with your family ahead of time about what restaurants will fit everyone’s budget. 

Alternatively, having a potluck at home can be a nice way to save money on food, but if you’re hosting be prepared to set boundaries. Don’t feel the need to provide all the alcohol for the party, and budget for miscellaneous hosting costs such as napkins, utensils or decorations. 

3. Holiday cards

Many families send annual cards to update their friends and extended family members. If you want to save money for other expenses, you can always opt for an e-card this year. However, if your family takes pride in annual holiday card traditions, you’ll need to budget, accordingly. 

Professional photos, high-end card design, and printing and envelopes add up. Be sure to plan out what you’ll need to execute your holiday card and save up in the months beforehand. 

4. Office parties

Many workplaces offer holiday parties as a thank you to employees. If you’re an employee, consider setting aside some money to buy your boss or co-workers holiday gifts or participate in an office-wide exchange. 

If you own a business, decide whether you’d like to treat your employees to a special evening for the holidays. If a boozy evening isn’t in the budget, consider alternatives such as a paid group activity, breakfast or casual family event.

5. Holiday decor

Holiday decorations can be pricey. Between internal and external detailing, you might be surprised at how much you can spend on holiday decor. If you plan on fixing-up your house or apartment, consider buying used decorations, first. 

Garage sales or online marketplaces, such as Facebook Marketplace, can have real gems from people looking to downsize or change their style. You might find the perfect item for a bargain price.

6. Personal giving

Many people like to go the extra mile with generosity during the holidays. Participating in Christmas food hampers or toy drives may help you get the most out of the season. 

If this sounds like you, be sure to add your expected donations into your budget now, so that you can plan around that giving. If you don’t have room in your finances to give money, consider donating your time to a cause that enriches your life.

Budget for the holidays now

The holidays are only a few paychecks away. If you start saving now, you’ll thank yourself when the holidays hit. Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore when you do it over time. Consider these holiday spending tips when looking for ways to save up.

  • Save piecemeal. Take a small amount of money out of your monthly paycheck and add it to a special holiday expense fund.

  • Leverage technology. Download a personal budgeting app like Mint or PocketGuard to get your finances in shape for the holidays. Budget, track spending and make cuts in your budget to make saving money easier.

  • Research reduced travel. Book your flights and hotel rooms in advance to get the best deals. You’ll be able to budget for the holidays simply by planning ahead.

  • Set a family-wide gift budget. Suggest a money limit for gift exchanges in your family. If everyone knows that gifts have a $20 maximum, exchanges become easier for all participants. Alternatively, if you’re in a big family consider drawing names so that each person only has to buy one gift.

  • Pick-up a side gig. If you’re short on money, you still have some time to make holiday cash. Consider a temporary side hustle. One idea is to sell your old clothes to be able to afford new gifts. Hit up your local consignment shop or sign up a service like thredUP or Poshmark to make holiday money out of clothes you never wear.

Celebrating the holidays doesn’t have to feel like a financial burden. With a bit of planning and a committed budget, you can participate in festivities with family and friends with less worry. If you’d like help preparing your holiday budget, reach out to a financial coach today.



The Financial Gym Team