In the spirit of the holiday season, Bankrate's credit card blog is giving you the gift of credit card tips! We will be posting one tip a day over the next 12 business days to make sure you and your wallet are merry and bright once your Christmas list is completed. Happy shopping!
I'm headed off to my office holiday party, which reminds me that gift-giving isn't the only seasonal expense during the holiday season. (I had to spend some moola for the costume portion of our holiday party.) So if your budget includes only presents around the tree, you're probably going to bust that budget before the holidays are over and end up with more credit card debt than you intended.
"When making a holiday budget, I would allot 60 percent to gift-giving and 40 percent to travel, decorations, dinners and attire," says Shane Holdaway, president of Capital One Canada.
But what else should you include? Here are five categories worth considering:
Travel: Americans will spend a total of $58 billion on Christmas travel this year, according to a recent survey from Hotwire. So don't forget to factor in how much it will cost to drive/fly/train/bus to Grandma's house or to a co-worker's Christmas party -- extra trips that you don't make in an average month.
Decorations: Nothing is more festive than a decked-out home. But that isn't free. U.S. consumers will spend an estimated $72.72 on decorations and flowers this year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. So don't let that blow-up Santa Claus blow your budget.
Food: Americans are expected to spend $100.35 on food and candy this holiday season, according to the NRF survey. That could be higher if you're hosting a large gathering for Christmas dinner. Make sure to put money you already have aside for the occasion. If the dinner tab will put you in the red, ask relatives to contribute some dishes to the meal.
Parties: Did you forget to budget for the office Yankee swap? Or, how about that new tie for your brother's annual Christmas party? And don't forget about the hostess gift for your best friend's New Year's soiree. Make sure your holiday budget has ample room for party incidentals. And if you're throwing the party, keep a separate budget for the celebration.
Cards: Are you sending out Christmas cards to 50 of your friends and family? That's $23 in postage without accounting for the card itself. The NRF survey says on average Americans will spend $28.03 for greeting cards this year. Cut down on postage costs by opting for postcard-type cards or print out cards on your own printer. Or, embrace 2013 and email a digital Christmas card.
What holiday costs take you by surprise?
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