Managing Holiday Finances

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Using a budget to navigate the expenses will add a feeling of accomplishment, and take away that dreadful post-holiday sticker shock.

Halloween has become genuinely scary. It is now the 2nd largest consumer spending holiday – BOO! Well, that’s just a little bit frightening. But it now kicks of the holiday season with sizeable spending. Starting early with a plan to make it through the holiday rush can take away some of the dread.

Here are a few Steps you can take Today to make the holidays more joyous:

  1. Create a holiday budget list. You may want to start with the items below and add your own items as you go.
  • Halloween costumes – There are a few ways to trim the costs for dressing-up this year. Most people know that resale shops are great places to look for inexpensive costume clothing. But why not cut out the middle man? Have your kids ask their grandparents if they’ve got something they could use. This will create memories for all. If you’re really trying to cut time and expense, ask your friends and family if they have any old costumes you might borrow.
  • Halloween decorations – I remember making Halloween decorations in elementary school. Crafted with construction paper, markers and crayons, we’d bring these home and decorate our porches and windows. If you’re buying decorations, try to buy some that can be reused next year (and remember where you store them).
  • Seasonal decorations for your home – Seasonal decorations can often be found at a farmers market for a reasonable price. Like with all decorations, try to buy those that can be reused and add some to your collection each year.
  • Thanksgiving dinner – Although not as expensive as Halloween, Thanksgiving cost for food, decorations, tableware, etc., can take a chunk out of your budget. Possibly ask guest to break a dish for dinner to help defer the work and costs. Planning ahead will not only help with costs, it’ll help make sure you have enough forks…I’m just saying.
  • Holiday decorations – Some folks REALLY get into this. That’s fine. But budget for it. And stick to the budget.
  • Greeting cards – Not so much an expense as it used to be. But isn’t getting a card in the mail still just a little bit fun?
  • Holiday travel – Whether it’s for visiting or vacation, don’t forget to plan early. Avoid the holiday flight costs by locking-in early and flying off-peak dates when possible.
  • Holiday clothing – Consider shopping for the ‘perfect’ holiday sweater (and other items) at a resale shop. This is often a choice between a tight budget and tight clothes.
  • Holiday gifts – Gift giving can have excessive costs. But do we really remember the gift (unless really useful and practical) as much as the time we spend with our loved-ones.
  • Gift wrapping expenses – Save those gift bags and stuffing paper. They’ll save you in cash and time. Here’s where be crafty can save you lots. If you have kids, wrap the presents in brown or white sheet paper, found in office supplies, and give them a box of crayons or brightly colored gel markers. You may even find this fun yourself.
  1. Track expenses – Recording expenses will help keep you on budget this year and plan better next year.
  1. Limit credit card expenses. Starting early, with a budget, allows the costs to be spread out over the season. Avoid building up a credit card bill that will only add post-holiday blues, anxiety and stress to the start of next year.
  1. Don’t forget to be charitable. Add charitable giving to your budget. Having it on the budget gives you more time to explore the options.
  1. Create a file folder for holiday expenses so you can find this list next year!
  1. Put a reminder on next year’s calendar to budget for fall holiday expenses.
  1. Use the free Holiday Budgeting worksheet available at to help plan for the costs and track expenses.

These simple steps will help manage the holiday costs this year, and in future years. What are some of your tips and tricks for managing holiday expenses?

And remember to take the next step…


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