With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get tunnel vision.
It's Christmas Eve, but before you start scrambling to find those last-minute presents, please make sure there’s still money left in your account.
We overspend for Christmas.
So if you’re hoping to avoid overdraft fees, check out these five expenses you probably didn’t budget for:
1. Fixing Your Car
People travel a lot around the holidays.
Americans drive an average of 275 miles for Christmas according to the government, and that road time comes with a cost.
Whether it’s a bad battery, a new alternator or front end work, there’s a surprisingly high chance something’s going to break.
Historically speaking, mechanics are seriously overworked during the holiday season.
Getting your car in for maintenance can be almost impossible in December, and I can guarantee you’ll pay through the nose if you do manage to get it in.
With all of the snow making roads dangerous, the salt making your car rush and the traffic making accidents even more likely, driving home for Christmas can be a pretty costly endeavor.
2. Getting Sick
Finals are going on right now, and do you know what happens right after finals?
Everyone — and I swear, it does seem like everyone — comes down with a damn cold.
So instead of buying last-minute presents, you’re buying NyQuil and praying for it all to be over.
As it turns out, stress activates our sympathetic nervous system.
As a part of our fight or flight mechanism, the sympathetic nervous system suppresses your immune system in order to devote more energy to other things, like pumping out adrenaline and cortisol.
But because we’re fighting with term papers and lab projects instead of wolves and bears, it just leaves us open to viruses.
There’s a reason why it pays to stay cool.
There’s always somebody we forget to buy a gift for, isn’t there?
Well, as it turns out, that forgotten somebody is costing you an arm and a leg.
Unless you’re buying everything through Amazon Prime, the average cost of two-day shipping is $28.
So if you’re the lazy type, make sure to remember the cost of your procrastination.
It’s also a good idea to second-guess those sales you’re getting.
If you’ve waiting until now to order presents, it may look like there are a lot of deals out there.
It turns out there aren’t.
The website camelcamelcamel tracks the prices of products on Amazon, and it helps you figure out whether or not you’re actually getting a good deal.
Those great savings you see online?
They’re not as good as you’d think.
If you’re smart, you keep a budget for the presents you buy.
You might even be smart enough to pool your budget with your family and shop as a group so no one is left out.
But how much did you budget for decorations?
Alright, so you’ve got $20 set aside for some new lights, but I’m fairly certain there wasn’t a line item for those scented candles.
Americans are spending a collective $6 billion on Christmas decorations this year.
That’s right, that’s just for decorations.
If your wallet’s tight, go blame the elf on your shelf.
5. Your Day Job
For whatever damn reason, someone decided that workplace gift exchanges would be a good idea.
Although, I suppose if you are going to be in the same building with a bunch of people for 2,000 hours a year, throwing them the occasional bribe isn’t a bad idea.
Even if the price limit is just $20, office Christmas parties can get expensive.
You have to buy food, a present for the gift exchange and an ugly sweater, and you have pitch in for the whiskey fund.
Before you know it, you’re dropping a C-note just to keep HR from calling you antisocial.
And don’t think you can get out of it by claiming your kids are sick.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that awkward office parties are unavoidable.