5 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Holiday Budget

HolidayGiftGuide revised

Chances are, you’ve already begun your holiday shopping. If you haven’t, you will need to rush to the stores or get on your computer. You can still shop online, but unless you pay for expedited shipping (or you’re an Amazon Prime member), you are running out of time to get the items you need quickly. The stress of having a limited amount of time to shop, mixed with the pressure to find the right gift for each person, can easily ruin your holiday season.

Spending too much money and far exceeding your intended holiday budget is another way to make the holiday season a little less cheery. If you don’t have a budget yet, it’s a good idea to sit down and make one; otherwise you might later be shocked by how much you spend. There are many ways to blow the budget you do make; here are five.

1. Spending without keeping track

In the rush and chaos of the holiday season, it can be tempting to spend, spend, spend, without thinking about how much cash you are parting with. Even if you have a budget, and if you trust yourself to know when you are getting close to surpassing it, you are setting yourself up for trouble. According to American Research Group, Inc. shoppers intend to spend an average of $882 on gifts during the 2015 holiday season. Regardless of whether your budget is close to that or not, you should keep track as you go in order to stay on target with your budget.

2. Failing to be specific about gifts

If you see something on sale, it can be tempting to simply throw it in your cart and head for the register, even if you don’t have a specific person in mind to give it to. A better idea is to make a list of who you want to give gifts to, how much you are comfortable spending for each person, and any gift ideas that you have in mind for them. Otherwise, you risk forgetting that you already bought someone a gift, spending more than you intended to on someone, or simply picking out gifts and trying to determine who they should go to later. This means that you might have to do more shopping last minute if you don’t have a gift for someone on your list, and this can lead to overspending.

3. Forgetting to factor in travel and food

If you plan to travel this season, or you are hosting a holiday dinner or party, you will need to include those costs in your budget as well. If you are driving, you will need to factor in the cost of gasoline, as well as any repairs that you need to make to your car before traveling, the cost of any hotel stays, and food along the way. If you are flying, you will need to purchase airline tickets, and possibly pay for a hotel and food at your destination. Last year, a Hotwire survey determined that Americans would spend $83 billion on holiday travel alone.

Remember to include the cost of party supplies or food as well.

4. Forgetting to budget gifts for yourself

Black Friday shopping isn’t just about the gifts: According to a 2013 study by DealNews, 44% of respondents said they were shopping for themselves, while only 13% said they were shopping for a spouse, and 21% said they were shopping for children. Even though Black Friday is over, if you already spent some of your budgeted gift money on yourself, then you are already sending your budget off course. If you want to purchase things for yourself, do so after you have already bought the other gifts, so that you can determine how much money you have left in your budget. Or, keep a recepit for things you purchase for yourself, so that you can return them if necessary.

5. Waiting until the last minute

Waiting until the last minute to purchase gifts can harm your budget in many ways. Stores may be out of the items that you want, and if you then have to order them offline last minute, you might need to pay for expediated shipping. If you wait until the last minute to ship items to relatives that live across country, you will pay more in order to make sure that the gifts get to their destination in time for the holiday. You can check the USPS website for Important Shipping Dates in order to stay on track. Lastly, if you wait too long, you might forget to factor in the cost of wrapping presents, as well as any shipping material that you need to purchase.

Of course, there are many other ways to blow your holiday budget. Acording to CBS news, if you want to avoid blowing your budget, making things yourself and considering regifting items are just two of the ways you can do so.

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