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Holiday Survival Guide: How To Manage Seasonal Expenses

The holiday season is here! While we celebrate everything merry and bright, we tend to get overly joyful with our budget this time of year. The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend an average of $1,000 on gifts just for themselves. The wallet is already crying at the thought, but don’t worry, it’s possible to survive the holidays and the seasonal expenses they bring with a little extra planning.

Preparing for the holiday season not only requires mental prep but also financial prep. Not only do you still have to worry about paying your regular bills and yearly expenses, now you need the money to buy your family gifts and maybe a little something for yourself. Are you ready?

Regardless of your budget, your best bet is to make a list of all your holiday expenses this season – and check it twice! Our team compiled a few common expenses to include on your list that will help manage your money this month, and into the new year.



The bulk of December budgets tend to be used on gifts for family, friends, co-workers, and ourselves. Let’s face it, we’re all in the giving spirit and can go overboard.

The reality is, buying a gift for everyone will quickly eat up your budget. To avoid going into seasonal debt, you’ll want to make a plan.

Write down everyone you need to buy a gift for and then get personal. List your gift ideas next to each name. This will keep you from walking into a store, searching blindly for a gift and spending more than you really wanted. There’s also nothing wrong with handmade or baked goods for the holidays. If anything, the personal touch will show you truly care.



If you’re one of the 112 million people projected to travel this season, you’ll need room in your budget for travel expenses.

  • 102 million are expected to travel by car
  • 6.7 million people will travel by plane
  • 3.7 million people will travel via trains, buses, or cruise ships

Explore your options and comparison shop early to help make the right decision for your budget. Remember, the earlier you book your trip, the more deals you’ll find and the more you’ll save whether traveling by bus, train, plane or boat.

Traveling by car is the way to go for many families but, cross-country trips will mean preparing your vehicle before you hit the road. Remember to factor oil changes, new tires, gas, lodging and most importantly, food and snacks into your budget.

To significantly cut down on travel costs, take up the offer to stay with family or friends and plan ahead by making an itinerary of all the activities you plan to do while away.



Streets covered in a blanket of white is what holiday dreams are made of, but what about all the preparation that comes with snow? Not only do you need tools for daily upkeep of sidewalks and driveways, but your vehicle and home also need to be winterized.

Here’s a few items you’ll want to have handy.

  • Power generator in case of a power outage
  • Weatherstops for windows and doors
  • Insulation for walls and attics
  • Coverings for water lines
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Booster or jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Sand for tire traction


Car Problems

With the holiday season comes colder temperatures. We’ve all experienced a car warming up for what feels like an eternity. Did you know that cold weather affects the performance of your vehicle? Here are a few things to watch for this season to avoid unwanted seasonal expenses.

  • Battery – your vehicle’s battery works harder to get your car running due to a reduction in starting capacity in below-freezing weather.
  • Fluids – cold temperatures make it harder for your car to get the fluids it needs to run properly.
  • Tire pressure – as temperatures drop, so will the pressure of your tires. It’s crucial to check your pressure during the winter months.

The cost of car problems including new batteries or tires can significantly impact your budget this season. Schedule a maintenance check as early as possible to ensure there are no surprises down the road.

Installment loans can put a little extra money in your pockets to stretch your budget and help you survive the holidays. We offer fixed monthly payments and repayment terms – keeping you from getting caught in the payday loan trap. 

Visit any of our Sun Loan locations and our team will get you started.

Now that we have talked about a few ways to prepare budgeting this season, let’s talk about how you can best manage and prepare for those holiday expenses.


Managing Expenses

With all this holiday spending on the horizon, you’ll need all the support you can get. Here are tips to make managing your expenses a stress-free time.


Set a Budget 

First up, setting a budget seems like the most obvious tip yet the most important to remember. Create a budget for each month that is dedicated to spending on holiday season related things (i.e. gifts, food, travel). Write it down and make it official. Start saving right now even if it’s a small amount using the money saving tips we’ve shared before.



If you’re going to a family gathering, most likely you will be expected to bring a dish. Call ahead of time and offer to bring side dishes. Take advantage of budget-friendly recipes made with inexpensive brands which will save you money.

Additionally, get in the habit of cooking at home instead of going out. Buying from restaurants may seem cheaper in the moment however, those small costs add up over time. A $5 chicken sandwich seems less inexpensive than a $9 pack of fresh chicken, but the truth is the package of chicken will give you more meals. Cooking at home can also be a great experience to have with the whole family and is cost-effective. It’s also a way to minimize your overall holiday spending.


Sell Your Extra Stuff

Get rid of some of that extra clutter in your house and make some extra money. There are many new ways to sell online and with apps, but a traditional yard sale is just as good, too. Hot items usually include things like electronics, gently used furniture or clothing, toys, and appliances. It might not seem like that much value at first, but it can add up. Selling the things you no longer use, need, or want is a great way to free up cash and help you budget for seasonal expenses this holiday.



Gifts are arguably the most anticipated part of the holidays, but it does not need to be the most expensive. How do you give someone something that is both meaningful and reasonably priced?

Make a list of all the people you need to get a gift for and then make a budget for each one—it doesn’t have to be much. The key here is going to be the uniqueness of the gift that will give it all of its value. Try to give something that is an extension of you. Get crafty. Or try a tray of freshly baked cookies. They always seem to do the trick.

At the end of the day just relax and have fun. The holiday season is a time to spend with one another. Don’t let holiday expenses get the best of you.

Visit any of our Sun Loan locations and let our team of experts help you get the money you need for the holiday season.