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December is a crazy busy but oh-so-fun month. Between the shopping, cooking and celebrating, you’ll have plenty to do in the coming weeks. And let’s be honest—buying stuff is pretty fun.
We get it. This is a wonderful time of year! And the last thing anyone wants to do during this holiday season is even look at numbers. But before you start spending on everything from mochas to mistletoe, it’s vital to take a moment to create your budget. A little work up front will keep money stress from dampening your joy.
Here are eight December expenses to work into your budget now:
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1. Christmas Shopping
This is the last month to purchase your gifts! Use the remaining amount of your Christmas savings or set aside extra money this month to tackle those gifts left on your list.
2. Extra Groceries
Put money aside now for spiral-cut hams and cookies for Santa. And remember, if you’re baking pies or treats as gifts, save your grocery money and use gift money instead.
3. Holiday Gatherings
Need something to wear for your office party? Or maybe you want to take some bubbly over to a friend’s house to watch Ryan Seacrest ring in the rockin’ new year? Budget now and get the party started!
This month, party invitations come from everywhere but Santa’s workshop. If you’ve got little ones, they’ll be spending some quality time with their favorite babysitter soon. So line them up early and add a nice Christmas tip.
Heading out of town to see relatives? Or just going someplace warm, where Jack Frost can’t nip at your nose? Remember to budget for gas, plane tickets, hotels, food, entertainment and souvenirs. Oh, and enjoy the getaway.
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There are some holiday traditions that money can’t buy, like enjoying the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas decorations as Clark Griswold’s family did. However, you do have to pay for all those lights, a few bulb replacements and a little extra for your light bill.
7. Christmas Cards
In this era of Facebook and Instagram, Christmas cards are a nice touch for the holidays. Yes, they cost more money and they’re a little more work, but there’s nothing quite like them. Don’t forget about the postage!
8. Extra Fun!
With some extra time off work this month, it’s the perfect time for a quick trip, a day of restaurants and movies with your family, or hunting for after-Christmas sales. Make sure these are reflected in your budget and close out 2016 with a bang!