Ah, it’s Christmas time again! Now, you’re no Scrooge, but just like everyone else you’ve been having to tighten up the belt this year and really watch what money you spend on Christmas shopping and festivities. You’ve planned out how much you’re going to spend for everything, no problem, there’s absolutely no way you’re going to go over budget this year. Really. But…are you sure you’ve thought of everything? Here are some of the main areas people end up spending more than they’ve planned on and why.
Undoubtedly, buying gifts for people is the number one area where we end up spending more than planned no matter how closely we monitor the spending. During the main Christmas shopping event there’s that dollar amount in mind, and each person on your list is allotted a certain amount that you’ll spend on them. But…that perfect gift for Susie is $3.00 over your budget, then that purse that Mary would just love is on sale and you’ve already bought her a gift, but what’s another $20? When the dust has cleared and you’ve purchased all of the presents, ask yourself…did you remember sales tax?
You’ve bought all of the presents within your budget. Great! Now it’s time to resist the temptation to add anything to the lot, and you’re good to go. Right? Wrong. Now that you’ve spent money on the presents themselves, you also need to buy wrapping paper, tape, gift bags, ribbons, and anything else you may need for them. Planning to ship? Not only do you need to factor in shipping prices, which may be a bit of a shocker in and of themselves, you also have to come up with the appropriate boxes, padded envelopes, and packing materials to get the gifts to their destinations safely.
It never fails, once you think you’ve bought all of the necessary food items, there’s always something you forgot. Running back to the store for those little forgotten somethings not only add additional strain to the budget for the food item itself, but also expends more gas than you’d otherwise have spent. It can also be very difficult sometimes to gauge how much you’ll need for your yuletide homemade candy or cookie plates, so additional ingredients for extra cookies or added recipes may really run up the tab.
In addition, it’s really hard to resist those little season-specific favorites like eggnog, seasonal coffees or teas, those tasty Christmas candies, or the huge tins filled with different-flavored popcorn. This is the only time of year to get these! It seems a shame to deprive yourself and guests of these delicious once-a-year treats. If they’re not already in your budget, these little treats can worm their way well past your Christmas dollar limit $1-$10 at a time.
You don’t need a budget for decorations, you have last year’s decorations and they’re just fine. Right? Then you get to looking at those decorations and the fake tree has a few broken limbs, some of your strings of lights need replacement bulbs or just plain need to be retired, that vigorous spring cleaning broke a few of your Christmas tree ornaments, and you really like the look of one-time-use decorations such as tinsel and fake snow.
One of the major hits a lot of people take in their Christmas budgets actually comes after the holidays. Sure your Christmas lights, which are on sometimes 12 or more hours a day, are a very festive addition to the household. Yes, it seems a lot more like Christmas if you have the tree lit up and that cutesie model train going underneath it all day, or if Christmas music is going all of the time. Along with that, people are going in and out of the house more often between shopping trips, guests, and taking time off of work. Most likely the oven – or at least the microwave – is doing double duty throughout the season. It isn’t until some time after the season ends that you realize the impact that all of these extra little things have on your gas, heating, and electric bill.
Overall, there are a ton of hidden costs within the Christmas season that often take people unaware. No matter how carefully you’ve planned your Christmas budget, always plan in a hefty percentage for all of those costs you weren’t expecting.