8 Smart Tips for Budgeting for Holiday Expenses

iStock
iStock

Unsure how much you spent during the last holiday season? If you don’t know definitively, there’s a good chance it was more than you bargained for. In fact, according to national polls, consumers spend an average of $750 on holiday gifts and entertainment each year. How do you budget for such a big one-time expense? Our good tidings to you are surefire tips to keep your celebratory spending in check.

1. BUDGET TIME JUST AS YOU DO MONEY.

It goes without saying that creating a spending budget is a key way to stay on top of your personal finances, but also scheduling when you plan to shop—and setting reasonable deadlines—will keep you on target. After all, the longer you wait, the higher the prices will rise and the more desperate you’ll be to buy products at a premium because you’re running out of time.

2. KEEP A RAINY DAY FUND.

It’s common financial sense to have an emergency fund for the unexpected, whether it’s a job layoff, a car repair, or a sudden medical procedure, but it’s also wise to have some funds tucked away for expected, but no less expensive, costs. When moving money into a savings account every month, consider also tucking additional cash away in an easily accessible account for annual birthdays and holidays.

3. CLEAR YOUR CACHE WHEN SEARCHING FOR FLIGHTS.

There are easily thousands of tips for scoring a cheap flight, but unless you want to wake up at 2:32 a.m. on a Tuesday, consider simply erasing your browser history before researching airfare. Many airlines track how many times you visit their sites, and in doing so, provide different offers and deals. The more they see you searching, the higher they’ll raise the prices.

4. CUT THE BOOZE.

It’s a lot less fun, sure, but consuming alcoholic beverages at restaurants and bars is a costly expense in general, never mind during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Not convinced? Consider this: By abstaining from just two glasses of wine or fancy cocktails, you’ll be able to afford one more substantial gift for a friend or loved one.

5. SET YOUR OWN PURCHASING WAITING PERIODS.

Instant gratification is one of the trickiest urges to overcome when trying to stay on budget. Just because it’s easy to find what you are looking for and order it right away doesn’t mean you should. Instead, mandate a waiting period for the bigger purchases on your list or at least double-check return policies.

6. APPLY THE SAME RULES TO YOUR GROCERY LIST.

Holiday spending isn’t just about gifts and decorations—it’s also about entertaining, and those costs add up just as quickly. If you’re baking or cooking for a family gathering, do your best to clip coupons or find other ways to save money on foods and beverages.

7. USE A CASH-BACK CREDIT CARD.

Although the benefits of a rewards card won’t benefit you immediately, it behooves you to shop with one. As long as you’re smart about paying off the balance so you aren’t faced with interest charges, you could save anywhere from 1 to 5 percent on each purchase in the form of either a rebate or a statement credit.

8. PAY WITH CASH.

If, however, you have a history of credit card debt, consider instilling a cash-only policy for all holiday expenses. When it comes time to shop, label envelopes with the name of the gift recipient and put the appropriate amount in each one. That way, there’s no possibility of going over your maximum, even by a few cents.

The 2019 Kentucky Derby: By the Numbers

Rob Carr, Getty Images
Rob Carr, Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby—which is often referred to as the "most exciting two minutes in sports"—will return to Louisville’s Churchill Downs Racetrack for the 145th year on Saturday, May 4th. While the historic horse race itself may not last long, the hoopla surrounding it is a much bigger affair (as are the hats).

So grab a mint julep (120,000 of them are served at the event each year) and take a look at WalletHub's breakdown of the finances and fashions surrounding this year's Kentucky Derby.

Source: WalletHub

Here’s How Much a 5-Star Hotel Will Cost You in 100 Popular Travel Destinations Around the World

The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai
The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai
iStock.com/Nikada

Sometimes, you don’t mind roughing it in a tent for the sake of a budget-friendly vacation. Other times, you might want to splurge on a nicer hotel with a buffet breakfast and room service. Enjoying the finer things in life doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank, though.

A chart spotted by Thrillist breaks down the cost of 5-star hotels in 100 popular destinations around the world. Travel site Asher & Lyric crunched the numbers, using data from TripAdvisor on the average cost of a weeknight stay at the five top-rated hotels in each destination. The analysis accounted for fluctuating costs from one season to the next, and the chart shows what you might expect to pay during the high season compared to other times of year.

Places like Aspen and the Cayman Islands are predictably among the areas with the priciest hotels, but other vacation spots are surprisingly affordable. Take Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for instance. This city of skyscrapers is a popular luxury destination—it’s called the “City of Gold,” after all—but its 5-star hotels are the third- cheapest ones on the chart, preceded only by Chennai in India and Manila in the Philippines.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’d spend less money staying in a fancy hotel in New York City, Paris, or Rome during the high season than you’d pay to stay in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole. And if you’re looking to travel domestic, check out Las Vegas, Houston, and Atlanta. Of America's top destinations, these cities offer some of the cheapest 5-star hotels.

Scroll down to see the chart, and check out Asher & Lyric’s website for a detailed breakdown of their findings, including their top hotel picks.

How Much 5-Star Hotels Cost in the Top 100 Destinations Around the World - AsherFergusson.com - Infographic
Researched and developed by Asher & Lyric Fergusson

[h/t Thrillist]

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