6 Hidden Holiday Costs to Keep in Mind

Woman shopping online with a credit card

The holidays can be expensive. When January rolls around you may discover you spent a lot more money than you thought. To keep your budget balanced, try these holiday saving ideas:

Cut Back on Decorations

Decorations like Christmas trees or wreaths, ornaments, holiday-themed dishes and other celebratory knick-knacks will also add up fast. If you want to deck the halls for less, replace a real tree or wreath with an artificial one to save long-term. If you decorate your house with lights, you may see your energy bill go up in December. Look for energy-efficient LED lights to keep electricity costs down. Consider ornament exchanges with friends or co-workers. Keep your purchases to just one or two items you’ll treasure.

 Keep Holiday Card Costs Low

Whether you are buying holiday cards or having them custom made from online companies like Mixbook, they will cost you some money. There’s also the cost of postage to consider. Make sure to sign up for card company emails to get discounts on custom cards. If cards aren’t in your budget this year, save by sending a customized eCard for free. Sites like AmericanGreetings.com offer many complimentary cards to choose from.

Keep Travel Costs Down

If you are travelling for the holidays, there are several expenses to budget for, such as flight, train or bus costs. You also need to add baggage fees, airport shuttle or parking charges, cab or Lyft charges, as well as tips for the drivers. If you’re driving you’ll need to add fuel and food costs to your trip budget. Consider packing snacks for the plane or a cooler full of meals in the car to save money. If you are taking a trip, consider shipping your online purchases to your destination, rather than paying for an additional checked bag when you travel.

 Consider Low-Cost Thank You Gifts

During the holidays, you may wish to show your appreciation to your regular service providers such as mail carriers, maids and hairdressers with cash or gift cards. Don’t overspend. Come up with a budget and stick to it. To save some money, consider giving baked goods or other handmade items instead.

Wrap Gifts for Less

Even if you make a point to stock up on gift wrap supplies from discount stores or during sales, the cost of paper, gift bags, name tags, ribbon and bows, the cost can be high. Skip ribbons, bows and other gift-wrapping extras. Try wrapping presents in newspaper or magazine pages. If you’re shopping online, forego the gift wrap option to save a few dollars per gift.

Look for Cheaper Ways to Ship Gifts

We don’t just put gifts under our trees, we also send gifts to friends and family in the mail. That means additional costs for packing materials and shipping that can often be more expensive than the actual gifts. There are several ways to save some money when shipping:

1) Buy boxes and other shipping supplies from a discount retailer.

2) Purchase cheap boxes at non-traditional stores, like car rental places. Make sure to go online and check the U.S. Postal Service website to get an estimate on shipping costs.

3) Save yourself a lot of time by buying a scale to weigh packages and purchasing shipping labels in advance online. You’ll be able to skip the long lines at the post-office as the holidays approach by just dropping off your packages.

4) Ship on Free Shipping Day. On December 18, hundreds of retailers will offer free shipping with no minimum and guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.


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