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5 Holiday Debt Surprises

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Most people think of gift purchases and the single source of holiday debt, but gifts aren't the only things that can break your budget during the holiday season.

1. Late travel arrangements

Air travel is typically more expensive during the holiday season. It's more taxing when you wait to purchase your tickets a few weeks or days before the holiday. Save on travel by booking flights early in the year. If you're late booking your flight, look for last-minute specials or consider flying standby. About Air Travel has tips to get the best rates on air fares.

2. December/January birthday gifts

While you're shopping for Christmas gifts, you might forget to purchase gifts for loved ones who have December and January birthdays. You can reshuffle your budget or regift to avoid more credit card debt. Be careful about doubling a gift as a birthday and Christmas gift. This works best when the person's birthday is close to Christmas.

3. Holiday decorations

From the tree to the trimmings to lawn decorations, if you're not careful, you can end up spending more on decorations than on gifts. Be sure to include decorations in your holiday budget. Check out About Budget Decorating for tips on holiday decorating for less.

4. New Year's celebration

New Year's and Christmas are only a week apart. As you set your holiday budget, try to include New Year's celebrations, too. If you're tapped out from Christmas shopping, scale back your New Year's plans or try sharing the expense with friends or relatives.

5. Normal expenses

If you spend all your cash on holiday items, you won't have any left to pay your rent, electricity bill, or other expenses. When you're budgeting for holiday spending, don't forget to factor in your regular monthly expenses. Otherwise, you'll be in really big trouble in January.

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