It may be too early to think about the holidays but it never fails … as soon as Halloween ends, time goes forward very quickly. If you haven’t thought about your holiday spending yet, start estimating expenses and start saving.

Some people are disciplined and save throughout the year for their holiday spending. Others just spend and deal with their credit card charges in January.

If you’re in the latter, vow to make a change. Be proactive this year and take control of your money. Here’s a list of items to consider as you estimate holiday spending.

Entertaining at Home:

If you plan to have friends and family at your home during the holidays, estimate how much you will spend on food, beverages, decorations, etc. Even if you’re planning on having one small gathering, costs can add up quickly if you don’t plan ahead.[divider]


During the holidays, more people get together after work or during the weekends. By now you may have several “save the date” events. During these gatherings, it’s normal to spend more than normal. You may linger longer at restaurants or be invited to an expensive venue. Take a look at your calendar from last year and estimate how much you’ll spend attending holiday gatherings.[divider]


If you plan to mail holiday greeting cards, estimate the cost for cards and postage. It may be time to change this tradition by shortening your list or sending greetings electronically. Another option is having your kids make cards in lieu of buying them.[divider]


Some people prefer to search for that “perfect” gift and not consider cost until they find it. By not having a “not to exceed” amount in mind, it’ll be easier to spend more than expected. Try a different approach this year. List all friends and family members you intend to buy gifts for during the holiday. Estimate how much you can afford to spend on each person. Include cost for gift wrapping. If you’re on a tight budget, consider offering your time to do daily chores or occasional house/pet sitting.[divider]


If you plan to travel over the holidays, estimate the cost for travel, lodging, food, and other expenses during your journey. While road trips can be less expensive than flying, there is still cost involved beyond what you normally spend in a month.


If you have trouble estimating your holiday expenses, look at your credit card statements for expenses in November and December 2016. By taking the initiative now, you’ll be able to start 2018 without dreading your January credit card statement. You’ll start 2018 with more control over your money.

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Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”