As Christmas is just a few days away, having a holiday financial checklist might be the farthest from your mind at the moment. You could very well be busy with all the holiday preparations you have been planning for months. This is arguably one of the busiest times of the year where you have social and family events left and right.
There are parties in the office, friends from work could be inviting you over their household for a party as well. You also have your neighbors at home where you might even be hosting a party for a lot of families. Then there is your family where they could be coming over or you might be flying out to celebrate the holidays with them.
In all these, your finances can take a beating if you do not manage it well. This is one of the reasons why you might need to have a holiday financial checklist. Rather than think of it as unnecessary during the season, think of it as a way to help you make sure that the holiday celebration does not put you in debt at the start of the new year.
You can easily get lost with all the expenses during the holidays that you receive your credit card statement with a huge amount than you have anticipated. Fortunly site shares that people spent an average of over $1,500 last year during the Christmas holidays. This can spoil the holidays for you and put financial stress even before the year ends. Here are a few things you can add to your checklist.
Are there any more gifts you need for the holidays?
One of the items you need in your holiday financial checklist is making sure that you are done with all your holiday shopping especially for your gifts. With just a few days before Christmas, prices for most items would already be shooting up. If you had a budget for the gifts, buying them now would definitely bring you over your spending limit.
If this happens, you would need to make adjustments to the item you will buy. You could opt for a lower-priced one just so you don’t miss giving that special person a gift. This is where your household budget comes in and helps you make informed decisions with an unexpected situation. You can use it and decide how to go about that final purchase.
You can stick to what you wanted to buy but a higher cost and look for ways to make adjustments later on. Your budget will also help you decide what you can afford at this stage to keep your finances intact. One gift might not make a lot of difference but if you forgot more than one, they can throw you off-budget in the coming days.
Travel plans need to be ironed out
Part of your holiday financial checklist needs to include travel plans as well. If you are thinking of visiting or staying with family over the holidays, you need to have these details ironed out at this point. Much like how gift prices would go up, the same can be said with travel expenses such as your plane tickets or hotel rooms.
The closer you are to actual Christmas day, the more expensive these cost items can get. That or you could really have challenging time booking flights and hotel rooms as most of them could already be taken. As demand goes up for limited resources, the few remaining plane tickets and hotel rooms could be quite expensive already.
You could end up renting and driving all the way to your destination and looking for a place to stay right there and then. This can be adventurous for some but it can quickly take out the spirit of the holidays for you as you soon realize how difficult this would be. This is the reason why you need to make sure that you attend all your travel plans ahead of time. Doing so can also help you save money in the process.
Year-end parties might dent your finances
Social events should also form a part of your holiday financial checklist because there is a good chance that you will incur costs in these gatherings as well. Regardless if you are hosting it or not, you will have to spend on some items. It can be a potluck party where you would have to bring in food or drinks. There can be gift-giving as well and you have to put that in your budget as well.
Some events might require you to travel as well so you need to plan ahead for these. CNN shares that about 112.5 million Americans traveled in 2018 over the holidays. As mentioned earlier, prices for almost anything tend to go up as actual Christmas day draws near. From gifts to food and even to travel expenses, these items become more costly and force you to spend more than you should.
This is the reason why you need to make sure that your social events are included in your checklist for holiday expenses. You do not want to be caught off guard with the need to purchase items for a party you will be attending or any other expense. Plan ahead for it or if you feel there will be a lot of last-minute purchases, save some extra money for it.
Re-align your financial goals for next year
It is a good idea to include forward goal setting with your holiday financial checklist as it helps you plan for next year already. Planning is better accomplished ahead of time because it is not reactive in nature. You do not just keep on adjusting to what happens to your finances. You get to plan for it early and guide to the direction you want.
Remember that your struggles and challenges for this year are lessons you can bring over to the next. If you had trouble with overusing credit card debt, take that lesson and be mindful of how you utilize your card for the coming year. Have a system in place so you do not end up with a bigger debt than you can pay off.
You could be taking a leap of faith when it comes to your finances next year trying to pursue your passion. If this is the case, you could realign your financial goals to strengthen your emergency fund. This is crucial as you step into the unknown. If you end up having to go through unforeseen situations in life, this fund will help you get through it.
Include budget changes in your holiday financial checklist
As you plan for the coming year and face the holidays head-on, it is a good addition to start looking at budget items you can change. Ideally, these changes can be in time for the holidays. However, it is always best to create changes that will have a positive impact on your finances not only for the present but for the future as well.
This means that if you will be making changes on your budget for the holidays, check if you can stick to these changes for the rest of the year. Do you plan to strengthen your emergency fund by adding $50 every month, check if this is doable for the whole of next year and stick to that goal? Lower the amount if you have to but the idea is to be consistent with the amount.
There are a lot of items you need to consider when you put together a holiday financial checklist and you need to be thorough with it. You do not want any surprise expenses ruining your holidays and leaving you in debt.