5 Gotchas to Budget For this Holiday Season

One of the biggest problems with Christmas is how it moves around on the schedule every year. You never know when it's going to be, when it might be coming, and then BOOM! There it is at your front door saying, "Hey, I'm Christmas. Buy stuff!"

But, wait a minute … Christmas is on the same day every year! December 25th. Who knew?

Somehow, too many of us are caught off guard year after year by Christmas. You already know you need to save throughout the year for holiday festivities. But we all have little things that, no matter what, sneak up on us.

Here's a list of "gotcha" items to include in your holiday budget:

StampsUncle Billy is waiting on his Christmas card. Unless you plan on driving to Toledo to deliver it in person, you're going to need a stamp — plus about 30 more for the rest of your family and friends. Even though they're inexpensive individually, the cost can add up quickly.

Wrapping PaperA pair of velvet slippers in a brown bag just doesn't have the same effect. You can do so much better than that! Go the extra foot and buy some nice Christmas wrapping paper. While you're at it, go ahead and include some extra cash so you can buy it on sale the day after Christmas so it's waiting for you next year.

PartiesThere's your work party, your wife's work party, your kid's school party, your church party, the neighborhood party …

During the holiday season, you probably need a project manager just to keep track of all the events. And whether you're bringing cookies, decorations, drinks, or gifts, you'll still need to plan ahead.

TravelGoing to see the parents? The in-laws? Maybe you're taking a vacation that doesn't involve awkward dinner conversations. If you're traveling this holiday season, don't forget about gas, snacks, hotels, checked baggage fees, rental cars, and anything else you might need to get around.

FoodYou can't possibly forget to budget for food, can you? Let's hope not. But while you might not forget the bread, milk, and cereal, you also need to think about the seasonal food you’ll be buying, like egg nog, ham, turkey, and fruit cake.

It's time to make a vow. Let's promise ourselves we won't wait until the last minute to take care of the stuff we know is coming. Keep these things in mind while you're out shopping this holiday season!

—Used with permission from DaveRamsey.com


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