Real talk: my seasonal FOMO is at its absolute worst during the holidays. Sure, I’ve been known to splurge on too many frozen beverages and could-be-more-budget-friendly road trips during the summer. But when it’s hot out, I’m much more content sitting in my apartment or a movie theater, soaking in as much AC as I can. December, though? Forget it. Say the word “gingerbread” or “peppermint mocha” and I’ll already have my boots strapped on. I love going to holiday parties and festive dinners, or really anything that gives me an excuse to wear green velvet and a sparkly brooch. I even love the extremely crowded NYC landmark streets and Christmas markets. Call me a tourist, because those handmade ornaments and sparkly window displays will always trap me. Also, between making stops to visit both my family and my fiance’s family in different states, don’t even get me started on holiday travel costs.
I also get carried away with spending on presents…and not in a cute, altruistic way. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had wonderful intentions of lovingly making something for everyone on my list by hand, only to ditch the cross-stiching/knitting/jewelry-making materials a week before Christmas and instead go with some nice coffee table books because I didn’t plan ahead well enough.
All that said, I always get to the end of the season having spent hundreds more than I initially intended. Thankfully, at least, I do a little better each year — not so much with spending less, but I get a lot better about anticipating what everything is going to cost. I know I’m not alone in my festive spending mistakes, of course, so I decided to reach out to the greater TFD community to hear more about their biggest spending blunders around the holidays. Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Shopping for gifts and then buying things for myself.” – Apie
2. “Feeling like if I’m buying it for someone else, it isn’t *really* spending money. It helps with the guilt, but not with the wallet or savings.” – Sheila
3. “Feeling required to send gifts to folks I don’t even speak to the rest of the year.” – Wandaya
4. “Oh my god, I purchase a new holiday party outfit every year, telling myself I’ll re-wear it, which I never actually do. I’ve probably $50-100 each year for the past five years on sparkly dresses I’ve never worn again. I do think it’s a ‘mistake’ because I could definitely be making a more responsible choice, but honestly, I’ll probably make the same mistake again this year. Maybe I’ll at least try thrifting.” – Claire
5. “Buying extra ‘just in case’ gifts, you know — just in case someone shows up with a gift and I don’t have one. Which is rarely ever the case, and I just end up with a bunch of chocolates and cookies.” – Jules
6. “Not buying wrapping paper when it’s on sale after the holidays! Not saving gift bags/ribbons for re-use (if it’s still in good shape).” – AnnaElsea
7. “I spent $50 on a ticket to Ingrid Michaelson’s holiday show with friends (plus $20 or so on drinks at the venue). I always forget that I don’t actually like concerts all that much, and the whole time, I wished I had just stayed home.” – Cindy
8. “I forgot to get my Amtrak ticket home to Boston until a week before the holidays. I thought the price wouldn’t go up that much and that it would be like $100 round-trip…it turned out to be way more painful.” – Zack
9. “Spent more on a car than I needed.” – Matt
10. “Letting buy one/get one free or half-off Cyber Monday/Black Friday deals trick me into thinking it’s okay to buy for myself when I buy a gift for someone else ++ not budgeting for the tax and shipping costs, which can add up!” – Stephanie
11. “Waiting too late to start Christmas shopping…which reminds me…” – Jaymee
12. “I still can’t seem to grasp saving for holiday shopping. I have budgeted my two December paychecks and can shop with those, but I missed all the Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales. This seems to happen every year :/” – Kayla
13. “Waiting til the last minute and then paying for ‘express’ shipping.” – Laurie
14. “Always picking the most expensive thing on someone’s wish list. Spending too much while stocking up on a personal stash of bourbon, beer cheese, and Ale-8-1 while visiting relatives instead of being generous and enjoying the holidays in a more relaxed manner.” – Christopher
Holly is the Executive Editor of TheFinancialDiet.com. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at email@example.com!
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