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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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How Coronavirus and 31 Other Infectious Diseases and Viruses Got Their Names

Rotavirus—from the Latin rota, for "wheel"—is named for the wheel-like appearance of its particles.
Rotavirus—from the Latin rota, for "wheel"—is named for the wheel-like appearance of its particles.
Dr_Microbe/iStock via Getty Images

As you may already know, the corona in coronavirus has no relation to a certain refreshing beer often served with a slice of lime. Corōna means “crown” in Latin—and Spanish and Italian, too—and virologists chose it in 1968 to describe the group of viruses characterized by crown-like spikes that protrude from their surfaces.

So how do other viruses and diseases get their names? Based on the infographic below, created by Adam Aleksic for his website, The Etymology Nerd, there isn’t just one way. Some, like the coronavirus, are named for how they look under a microscope. The rota in rotavirus, for example, which means “wheel” in Latin, reflects the virus’s wheel-like appearance when viewed beneath an electron microscope.

Others are named after the locations where they were discovered or studied. In 1947, scientists named a newly identified mosquito-borne virus after Uganda’s Zika Forest. In 1977, Yale researchers investigating a string of pediatric arthritis cases in the town of Lyme, Connecticut, started referring to the illness as “Lyme arthritis.” Later, the name was modified to “Lyme disease” when scientists realized patients were exhibiting other symptoms, too.

Still others are characterized by the symptoms they cause. People with tetanus—from the Greek tetanos, for “tension”—usually experience muscle stiffness, and the skin of yellow fever sufferers often takes on a yellow tint due to jaundice.

Find out the origins of malaria, measles, and more below. And follow The Etymology Nerd on Instagram for more fascinating etymological explanations.

Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of Latin in this infographic.The Etymology Nerd