Often dubbed as the most joyous time of year, the holidays can also be among the most stressful. On top of obligations faced every month, there are additional pressures to spend more, visit family and attend holiday events.
While some additional expenses are unavoidable, there are many ways you can waste money without realizing the accumulative impact. Recognizing the top money wasters can leave you with more money in your pocket this holiday season.
Spending Too Much on Entertainment
Holiday festivals, light displays, theatre shows, and other holiday traditions can fill your schedule and empty your wallet. Instead, choose one or two meaningful traditions to add to the calendar. You will save money and reduce time commitments.
Another area of overspending is entertaining. Whether it is the office holiday party, dinner with friends, or a party at home, providing food, decorations, and obligatory gifts for every invitation adds up. Hosting family and friends can require a lot of time and money. Instead, simplify by opting for potluck parties, simple decorations, and limit or eliminate gift exchanges. Catering can alleviate the kitchen duties and provide a more intimate setting with lower costs than restaurant meals.
Not Utilizing Discount Stores
Entertaining requires more supplies and food than a traditional dinner. In these cases, wholesale supply and warehouse stores are a good choice because they offer products in larger quantities at significantly lower prices than a neighborhood grocery or specialty store. You can save on food, paper products, and other entertainment needs.
Failing to Take Advantage of Free Events
With the holidays come many free activities including concerts, neighborhood parties, light shows, and so forth. Rather than spending money on an expensive restaurant or theater show, consider participating in free events in and around your hometown.
Buying New Decorations Every Year
Decorating your home puts you in the holiday spirit and can be a major part of the celebration. However, buying new decorations at the start of each season can be expensive, for items only used a few weeks.
Holiday decorations appear in stores in October and go on sale by November. You can find discounts up to 50% off a few weeks before the season ends. Waiting until after the holiday can increase savings up to 80%. However, you must then store the items purchased for the following year.
Another way to save on decorations is to use hacks found on sites like Pinterest, which promote decorating with everyday items, to create fun and interesting displays.
Holiday lights, wreaths, ornaments, and other features can add hundreds to the budget if you do not reuse decorations. Store your holiday favorites to lower decorating costs each year. You can also reuse gift bags and bows from year to year to lower the cost of gift wrap.
Buying New Holiday Outfits
Holiday specific outfits are not practical because you can only wear them a few times each year. Instead of frequenting Ugly Sweater stores, find outfits in holiday colors, without narrowing its use to the holiday season.
You can create festive outfits with existing clothes by adding festive accessories, to meet the demands of special parties or family photos.
Buying Drinks at Restaurants
Alcoholic beverages can more than double a restaurant bill. Two glasses of wine often cost as much as the same bottle at the local wine store. Making cocktails at home and sticking with non-alcoholic beverages in restaurants will help keep your restaurant budget in check.
Eating Out More Frequently
Packed schedules, increase the temptation to grab fast food meals more often, which sabotage both your diet and budget. When planning a shopping trip, consider meal times and eat before or after. Another strategy is to prepare extra meals one day each week and freeze for a busy day.
Purchasing Gag Gifts
Gag gifts cost a premium and have little or no value. Often you must purchase a regular gift in addition to the gag gift, leading to higher spending. While they offer a quick laugh, most end up in the trash, providing no long-term benefit.
Spending Too Much on The Kids
Commercials targeting children and the abundance of sales can lead to a “give me” holiday for kids. Resist the temptation to overspend by allocating a set amount to spend on each child. Then plan a gift list before shopping to stay on track.
Children outgrow toys quickly, which can lead to a toy box full of unused items you must donate or sell in a few months. Choosing gifts that will last, rather than short-lived trends can also reduce the number of unused toys.
Spending Too Much on Yourself
Individuals spend an average of $130 on themselves during the holiday season. To reduce the impulse to buy for yourself a set budget for items you want, based on what tends to go on sale. Requesting desired items as gifts will help those who want to buy for you and reduce the need to purchase the item.
Paying Shipping Costs
During the holiday's companies wanting to promote online buying frequently offer specials and coupons which eliminate shipping costs. Other strategies include, spending a predetermined amount on each order to meet the required threshold, or buying and picking up items at the local store.
Paying for Warranties on Appliances and Electronics
Most electronics will last beyond the guarantee offered. Extended warranties, typically include the year or more you get with the purchase, lessening their value. Before paying extra, use a credit card that offers extended benefits, which will often double the manufacturer warranty. If you want to add a policy, consider a third-party company such as Square Trade for similar benefits at lower prices.
Using Out of Network ATMs When Shopping
The cost of using ATMs out of your bank's network has steadily increased to an average of $4 in 2017. In most cases, both banks charge a fee, meaning it will cost you an average of $8 to access cash if your bank does not have an ATM nearby.
To avoid high bank fees, plan ahead and withdraw enough cash to cover your needs before shopping. You can also receive cash back with a purchase at many stores such as Target or Walmart.
Avoiding money wasters will leave you with more money for your highest priorities. You can enjoy the season with less stress and less debt, starting the new year strong.