How to Manage Hidden Holiday Costs

Hold on to more of your money

(Image: ThinkStock)

You love the holiday deals but you’re not so in love with those unexpected costs. What’s a smart shopper to do? Have no fear, Kelly Whalen, founder of the consumer website Centsible Life, is here. She offers some valuable advice on how to steer clear of those pesky money zappers.

Black Why did you start Censtible Life?
Kelly Whalen: I started the website when my own family was struggling financially. With four children and a new home I realized we were well outspending our income, and that we were headed for financial disaster. I started studying and reading everything I could find about managing our personal finances and as my interest grew so did my need to share what we were learning. Talking to friends I realized how many people had the same questions and struggles I had, and with a little help from my husband the website was born back in 2009.

What are some hidden holiday costs? How can we avoid or lessen those costs?
There are so many costs that add up during the holiday season, but a few we may forget to factor into our budget are below, along with some helpful tips to avoid them.

  • Shipping: Shopping online may seem easy, but shipping can be pricey! Look for free shipping, shop with free shipping coupon codes, or split an order with family or friends to get free shipping on an order over a certain dollar amount. Free Shipping Day is on December 18th, so look for hundreds of websites to offer free shipping that day.
  • Holiday Home: We all want a gorgeous holiday home, but spending big isn’t necessary for a festive look. A lot of elbow grease goes a long way to making your home holiday-ready. If you need some help cleaning, fixing up your home, or even hanging holiday lights, you can find coupons for local businesses at
  • Decor: It’s easy to spend a lot of dough on decor, but if you keep things simple you can save big. Consider simple crafts like paper snowflakes, LED candles, and handmade crafts to brighten your home. You can also check local yard sale groups, Craig’s List, and consignment shops for great deals before the holidays or shop clearance after the holiday for next year’s decor.

What are some good money-saving apps?

  • PriceJump: just launched PriceJump, a comparison tool that allows users to compare prices, be it in-store or online, to snag the best deals at all times. A price check on PriceJump by can save shoppers up to 70%!
  • Favado: Having guest’s over for a holiday feast? Favado helps shoppers save big on groceries by allowing users to compare deals in local stores, choose coupon combinations, and manage their shopping list.
  • Your Credit Card or Bank App: I like to be sure I’m sticking to my budget as we shop during the holiday season, so I have both our bank and credit card’s app on my phone so I can check (and pay) balances on the go and track our holiday budget.

What’s most important during this busy time of year is spending time with our loved ones. By sticking to a budget and avoiding hidden costs you’ll have a much happier holiday.

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