Beware of Holiday Budget Busters

By Laura Roler, Military Saves Associate, AFC® Candidate, FINRA Military Spouse Fellow

The holiday season almost always means extra expenses, ones that are often not considered when thinking of a monthly budget. 

If your holiday spending is in line with the average consumer, that could mean $1000 or more in additional expenses between Halloween and the New Year.  Instead of being caught by surprise, plan ahead and save for the costs associated with these special days.

Halloween

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, in 2014 the average consumer is expected to spend $77.52 on Halloween costumes, candy, decorations, and greeting cards. 

Thanksgiving

In 2013 the average household spent $49.04 on Thanksgiving dinner.  If your family is entertaining, traveling, or eating out for Thanksgiving dinner, your costs could be more!

December Holidays - Kwanza, Hanukah, and Christmas

The average consumer is projected to spend $804.42 in 2014 according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) Holiday Consumer Spending Survey.  The majority of that - $596.53 - will be spent on gifts for family, friends, and even pets, while the remainder will be spent on food, decorations, greeting cards, and flowers.  As with Thanksgiving, entertaining, travel, and eating out will increase your costs during the holidays! 

New Year's Celebrations

New Year's party celebration costs will vary depending on what your plans are, but if you plan to celebrate with family and friends, food and drink, you can expect that your spending will reflect a special occasion!  And if you can't resist retailers special end-of-year sales, your holiday costs could go up even more.    

Some additional expenses to think about:

Utilities

In most parts of the country, cranking up the heat around the holidays is to be expected due to cooling temperatures, which will cause your gas or electric bill to raise.  And if you plan on putting up lighted decorations, expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $300 extra on your bill, depending on your usage - the type and amount of lights used, how long you keep them on, and the power costs in your area.    

Travel

Along with each holiday comes parties, special events, family gatherings, and often travel.  Last year the median trip cost for a Thanksgiving traveler was $465, and for end-of-year trips it was $765.

Clothing

With all of the parties, special events, and gatherings that occur during the holiday season, you may find yourself shopping for a special outfit or accessory; did you plan ahead for it in your budget? 

You know that some, if not all, of these expenses occur every year.  So what is the best way to protect your budget from the shock of these additional expenses?  Plan ahead - make a plan to save for the special occasions that you know are coming, as well as some extras that may pop up.  Create a holiday savings fund, build it into your budget, and contribute to it monthly to prevent your budget from being busted by the holidays!    

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | September 30, 2014

    The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. Sign up or get more info at tsp.gov

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