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Avoiding Hidden Holiday Costs: Uncovering the Sneaky Expenses You Didn’t Plan For

November 13, 2023

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. It’s also a time when our budgets may be stretched to the limit, often due to unexpected and hidden costs we should have planned for. From festive decorations to last-minute gift exchanges, these sneaky expenses can quickly add up, leaving us with a financial headache well into the new year. In this blog post, we’ll uncover hidden holiday costs you might have yet to consider and provide tips on saving money during this festive season.

1 Festive Decorations: Beyond the Tree and Lights

Decking the halls with boughs of holly and trimming the trees are classic holiday traditions, but the cost of decorations can quickly escalate. Consider the expenses associated with outdoor lights, wreaths, ornaments, and other festive adornments. Opt for DIY decorations or repurpose items you already have to save money. Get creative with homemade ornaments or involve the family in crafting unique decorations. You’ll save money and create meaningful, personalized items that add a special touch to your holiday decor.

2 Greeting Cards and Postage: A Merry, Yet Costly Tradition 

Sending out holiday cards may seem like a small expense, but it can add up when you factor in the cost of cards, envelopes, and postage. Instead of buying pre-made cards, consider crafting your own using online templates or family photos. Additionally, explore electronic greeting cards as a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. If sending physical cards is necessary, shop for deals and consider mailing cards early. 

3 Unexpected Travel Costs: Navigating the Highways and Skies 

If your holiday plans involve travel, be prepared for hidden expenses such as increased gas prices, baggage fees, and unexpected transportation costs. Plan your trips well in advance to save money, taking advantage of early booking discounts. Consider alternative transportation methods, like carpooling or public transit, and pack wisely to avoid excess baggage fees. Be sure to account for travel-related expenses in your holiday budget to avoid last-minute financial stress. You may want to consider applying for a Benchmark VISA Credit Card to help with your travel expenses.

4 Holiday Feasts: The Price of a Grand Celebration

Holiday meals are a cornerstone of the season, but the cost of hosting your annual festive feast can be surprisingly high. From the turkey to the trimmings, the grocery bill can quickly escalate. To save money, plan your menu in advance, taking advantage of seasonal sales and discounts. Consider hosting a potluck-style gathering, where each guest contributes a dish, easing the financial burden on the host. Additionally, shop smart by buying in bulk and freezing items for later use.

5 Last-Minute Gift Exchanges: The Rush to Find the Perfect Present

While the spirit of giving is at the heart of the holiday season, last-minute gift exchanges can lead to overspending. To avoid this, start your gift shopping early, taking advantage of sales and promotions. Consider setting a budget for each person on your gift list to ensure you spend your money wisely. DIY gifts, or gifts of time, such as providing babysitting or dog walking services, can also be a thoughtful and cost-effective alternative.

6 Utility Bills: Lighting Up the Night Can Darken Your Wallet

The holiday season often means increased electricity usage due to festive lighting displays and decorations. To save on utility costs, consider using energy-efficient LED lights and set a timer to limit usage. Additionally, be mindful of heating costs during gatherings; instead of cranking up the thermostat, encourage guests to dress warmly.

7 Entertainment and Events: The Price of Festive Fun

Attending holiday events and entertainment can be a delightful way to celebrate the season, but ticket prices, concessions, and parking fees can quickly add up. Look for free or low-cost community events and activities to enjoy with friends and family. Consider creating your own traditions, such as movie nights at home or game nights, which can be just as enjoyable without the hefty price tag.  

Careful Planning is Key to Avoiding Hidden Holiday Costs

While the holiday season is a time for celebration, it’s crucial to remember the hidden expenses that catch us off guard. By planning, budgeting wisely, and getting creative with cost-saving measures, you can navigate the festive season without breaking the bank. Remember, the true spirit of the holidays lies in the joy of being together with loved ones, and thoughtful gestures often carry more weight than extravagant gifts. Here’s to a season filled with joy, love, and financial peace of mind!

Protect yourself from scams this holiday season by reading our Benchmark blog “Season’s Thievings: How to Spot and Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams.” 

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