December can hit even the best planned holiday budget hard. Once you make your holiday spending list, there are a few things you may forget about. Here are some often overlooked costs — and some tips to help you make sure that you account for them.
Especially if you procrastinate on your holiday shopping, you could end up paying higher shipping costs with various retailers to get your presents to your loved ones in time. Make sure you allow for additional time in case something is delayed because of bad weather, there are issues with the store you buy gifts from, or a signature is required and someone isn’t home when delivery is attempted. If you’re shipping boxes to loved ones, it’s also a good idea to use a method that lets you track and insure items so that you’re not left scrambling if something does go wrong in transit. As far as getting things mailed: the sooner, the better to avoid missing the date when you want them to arrive.
Check the retailers you’ll be shopping with and set a budget for shipping — a number that’s realistic to cover the items you still need to buy. It’s a good idea to buy gifts all at once to minimize the different shipping expenses. Some online retailers also offer pick-up options at their brick-and-mortar locations to avoid shipping charges, too.
Unless you’re flying first class, are a frequent flyer, or have a preferred credit card with the airline you’re traveling on over the holidays, you’ll likely have to pay to transport luggage — especially if you have a lot of gifts to bring.
Check the website of the airline you’re traveling on to plan ahead for costs, and you may also want to allow for an extra bag (or two) in case you end up bringing more than expected.
Holiday Party Supplies & Clothing
When you’re attending a holiday party or multiple parties throughout the season, there is usually an outfit or accessories you want to add to your wardrobe to wear — whether you need a new cocktail dress or tacky Christmas sweater. Also, you probably need to account for a host gift, white elephant gift, or donation for a charitable cause when attending holiday parties and events. If you’re throwing a holiday party yourself, make sure to account for everything you’ll need including serve ware, silverware, plates, cups, and alcohol. You’ll also want to include a budget for decorations, if you don’t already have them.
Party gifts can quickly add up, so determine how many holiday parties you anticipate attending and plan out funds for each one.
Cards, Gift Wrap & Stamps
Gift cards and wrapping can add up if you need to purchase lots of gifts, so don’t forget to account for these smaller items in your holiday budget. If you stock up on gift wrap after the holidays and throughout the year, you might be able to avoid spending a lot on wrapping supplies at once.
Don’t let these unexpected items catch you by surprise. And remember: Budgeting is something that’s important all year round! Click here to read more articles on Mr. Cooper’s blog about how to budget.