How to Financially Prepare for the Holidays

Halloween is this week, which means November is nearly here and we’re about to officially cross the threshold into the “holiday season.” For as many great wonders of the holidays we look forward to, there are also quite a few that add up in our budgets. Here are some expenses to remember to budget for—and a few ideas on balancing them with holiday finesse.

Travel

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, make sure to factor in budget for the unexpected. From food or lodging during layovers or canceled flights to flat tires and everything in between. If you have the luxury of being flexible, try to keep an eye on travel conditions and adjust accordingly.

When it comes to lodging, book through hotels directly for better pricing and don’t shy away from getting cozy with relatives for the lower cost of sharing!

Food

Full-fledged meals, canned goods, homemade sweets . . . it seems like November to January is just one long feast. If you’re hosting, don’t be afraid to ask people to contribute side dishes or desserts. As a guest, be generous and ask your host what you can bring; just budget in for the quantities you’ll need.

Donations

There are many more “asks” around the holidays from charitable organizations. Decide before the season how much you’re willing and able to give, and which organizations you feel passionately about. Remind yourself that it’s okay to pass on some opportunities to give, in favor of others you may want to take. If you’re not in a position to give financially but want to get into the spirit of giving, try donating your time as a volunteer!

Gifts

This is the big (and totally anticipated) part of the holidays. If you’ve got a list of people you want to give presents to, set a budget for each one. You don’t need to give every person a unique gift, either—it really is the thought that counts. A plate of cookies or bagel tray will go a long way to wish happy holidays to your coworkers! 

The bottom line is expect your bottom line to change as the holidays approach. Expect to see more money going out than usual, and adjust your habits accordingly. Go out a little less and save a little more. When it comes to money, being aware is your greatest tool to staying financially well!


Kat’s Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.

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