Will These 5 Budget Busters Surprise You This Fall?

The holidays come at the same time every year. We both know this, but if you don’t have a plan, it can still sneak up on you.

via Jacob Edward @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Jacob Edward @ Flickr Creative Commons

The last thing you want to have happen is to be paying off Christmas presents well into the next year. In this post, I’ll share with you five things, that if you don’t plan for, can blow your budget into smithereens.

At the time of this article, I’m 34 years old and making the most money I’ve ever made. But I’ve not forgotten how far we’ve come.

I remember the first house Marilyn and I ever purchased. It was 900 sq. ft., and that was including the front and back porch.

I remember our tax returns from filing jointly our first year as a married couple. It completely amazed me how we were able to live on $12,000 gross income….and every bill was paid on time.

No matter how much you make today, I’d be willing to bet that you don’t “feel” like you actually have any more than when you first started this whole adulting thing.

Welcoming The Holidays

Thanks to bills, a gazillion non-profits asking for donations, and an extended family that seems to always be growing larger, the holidays can go from feeling magical to stressful in less time than it takes to down a pumpkin spice latte.

The great news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Top 5 Fall Budget Busters

Here are my top five areas to watch in your budget for this fall. If you fail to pay attention, your spouse and your kids could easily mistake you for the Grinch instead of Santa’s helper.

1. Higher utility bills. Fall (especially in Indiana) seems to be the time when Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind. One day is in the mid-80s, while the next is in the upper 50s….That literally JUST happened.

Your air conditioner and heater are going to be working overtime. You’ll want to make sure you’ve budgeted for the increased cost this will have on your electric and gas/propane bills.

2. Higher Grocery Bills. We have a family of six and I’m pretty proud of the fact that our grocery bill usually runs between $110 to $150 per week. Perhaps I’ll share how in a future post sometime. Whatever your weekly budget, consider increasing it this fall for:

  • Holiday breaks when everyone is home (Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, etc)
  • Meals for your extended family
  • Pot Lucks at church
  • Baking….Lots and lots of baking to get you in the mood for the holidays 🙂

If you’re interested in tips for saving money on groceries, check out this post from Lindsey Tolin and peruse the blog “Money Saving Mom” to find tons of grocery shopping info.

3. Christmas Shopping. If you don’t have a list, you don’t have a plan. Before the holidays get here, you should already know who you need to buy gifts for, and how much you are willing to spend on each person.

Odds are if you’re married, one of you is a saver and one is a spender. The key to keeping the Christmas spirit is to be able to meet each other in the middle. You need to agree on the amount.

4. Christmas Decorations. Something that has really surprised me as our kids are getting older is how much “decorating” the house is such a large part of their memories of the holidays. They don’t remember the toys and gifts. They remember the atmosphere.

Don’t be afraid to splurge (budgeted of course) on something that could easily be seen as “unnecessary” like decorations. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Here’s something I did to our house and it only required a few flood lights:

Don't Forget To Decorate For The Holidays

5. The Extra Giving. Giving is what the holidays are all about. If you think, “I don’t make enough to be a giver”, you’re wrong.

Christmas is all about giving. Be outrageously generous, and then keep it up all year long! But let’s be honest….it doesn’t make sense to give a couple of dollars to every person or organization that asks.

I would suggest doing what my wife and I do. Pick a few organizations that you choose to support, and then support them GENEROUSLY.

QUESTION: What tips do you have for preparing for the holidays?

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