The Top 10 Ways You’re Overspending During the Holidays
The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you don’t stay on top of that runaway budget, it can also become the most costly time of the year too. Wondering where all of your money is going? We’ve compiled the top 10 ways people overspend when the weather turns cold.
Hosting DutiesPlaying host for all of those festive holiday get-together’s can be a wonderful thing, but if you’re not careful – all of those catered meals and home-cooked dishes of massive portion-size can really add up!
We suggest hosting a potluck-style evening instead. Encourage your guests to get in on the foodie-fun by bringing a meal or dessert of their own choosing and bringing it with them – meaning less time in the kitchen prepping platters and cleaning dishes, and more to spend celebrating with your guests!
Aimless Holiday ShoppingBraving the holiday crowds at the mall – without a plan – is one of the most costly mistakes you can make this season. Odds are, without a strategy, you’ll end up exhausted and impatient, buying whatever you can to get yourself out of there. This usually means missing good deals and overspending – leaving you feeling worse for wear about what you’ve bought, and just how much you’ve spent.
We suggest making your list – and checking it twice! Before you leave the house, take the time to jot down a list of every person you’ll be buying for, and what it is you hope to find for them. Then have a look at your list – what stores will help you cover more than one person? What mall or shopping center helps you to cover the most ground? Spending the time on your list beforehand will save you in both time – and money – later on.
Related: 8 ways to stay out of debt during the holidays.
Charging it to PlasticUnless you’re militant about paying off your credit card on time, using plastic-only for your holiday expenditures can leave you in a mountain of debt once Santa’s gone and the tinsel has cleared.
We suggest establishing a clear budget for the season – everything from food to décor to gifts – and sticking to it as best you can. Use cash or debit to help you stay on track and give your credit cards a much-needed break.
Read on for the top tips for rebuilding bad credit.
Lighting up your House like the 4th of July!Nothing is prettier than a house all lit up for the holidays – but at what cost? Sure, bright lights and dancing reindeer are nice, but this kind of décor can be the most costly, not to mention rendered useless during the bright light of the daytime.
We suggest keeping it simple with the lights – picking something classic and easy to both assemble and store, to give you years of use. More than that, we’d recommend scaling back on the light show and instead opting for things like inflatable holiday characters for the lawn, oversized ornaments for your outdoor trees and plants – simple pieces to showcase your holiday spirit, minus the headache and added cost.
Overloading on Greeting CardsStocking up on holiday send-outs can leave you shocked at what you’ve spent – and just how many cards you’ve got left-over by the time you’re done all that well-wishing.
We suggest making a list (yes, another list!) of people you’d really like to send a greeting card to; business contacts, out-of-town friends and family – an exclusive breakdown of people you know will truly appreciate the gesture. This might mean skipping that 3rd cousin who’s name you can never remember – so get choosy! Don’t worry, Santa won’t knock you off the “nice list” for keeping your budget in mind!
With all that extra cash, why not check out these 20 warm and cheap holiday escapes.
Gifting Gift Cards - at Full PriceGift cards are a great idea for those hard-to-buy-for friends and family members. But buying gift cards at full cost – particularly during the holiday season when the ones you want can end up in short supply, can end up costing you more than you’d like.
We suggest hitting your keyboard before you hit the shops and checking out gift card exchange sites like Card Swap or Gift Card Granny, where people will exchange and buy gift cards at discounted prices. Also, looking online often means a wider variety of cards available to you – it’s a win/win!
See more: 20 unique gifts your kids will love.
Costly Wrapping PaperDressing up your gifts can be the best part, if you’re someone who appreciates great presentation – but that can also end up adding to the cost of your gifts in a big way.
We suggest buying your wrapping paper, tags and trimmings during the off-season, when these things are usually discounted in price and cheaper to buy in bulk. As far of those fancy bows and ribbons, skip the specialty stores and try your local dollarstore first. You’d be amazed at just how much you can find there during the season, for a fraction of the cost.
Charity DonationsOk, so hear us out: we are ALL FOR the generosity of the season, and there’s nothing we’re on board with more than donating to the less fortunate. However, if you don’t stay on top of your budget, even in the charity department, you’ll end up wondering just where all of those good intentions went!
We suggest making another one of those super-helpful lists. Jot down a list of charities that are near and dear to your heart, and mark down a total amount which you can afford to spend, divvying up that number to each charity as you see fit. If you’d like to donate more, why not pull from your gift-budget and donate in the names of those people you’d otherwise be buying gifts for – it’s a wonderful way to keep your gifting in the true spirit of the season!
Shipping, Shipping, ShippingOnline shopping has become a great alternative to braving the malls over the holidays, and we are totally on board with getting as much of your shopping done this way as you can. However, depending on where you’re buying from, those shipping costs can be a killer and seriously add to your holiday debt.
We suggest considering local-based retailers. For example, many major department stores and retailers have now expanded to provide Canadian-based online shipping, which cuts costs in a big way – often even offering free shipping if you hit a certain total in your cart. Next, keep your eye out for great deal and online promotions. This time of the year brings with it countless online incentives – Cyber Monday, anyone? Finally, did you know for many online retailers, December 18 is known as “Free Shipping Day”? You’re welcome.
Over-Spending... on Yourself!No judgment, but this time of year means A LOT of shopping, both in-store and online, and that can mean a lot of time spent scouring the racks for deals and promos. Coming across so many great finds, it’s only natural you’d be inclined to pick up a little something – or a lot of something’s – for yourself.
Before you find yourself with more gifts “from you, to you” under the tree – remember: now is the time to stay focused on your list, and your loved ones – just as they’re doing for you. Stay on track and indulge in those post-holiday sales or even a post-holiday vacation afterward as your reward!