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    Posted December 1, 2013 by
    La Crosse, Wisconsin

    What you're REALLY spending this holiday season!


    Turkey? Check. Tree? Check. Lights? Check. Gifts? Check. Wallet? Empty.


    The holiday season is in full swing. Stores are bursting with sales, kitchens are steaming with homemade goods and living rooms are getting transformed into winter wonderlands. It’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the holiday season and we often start shelling out money as generously as we add marshmallows to our hot chocolate. But exactly how much do we spend in a holiday season? It is the Season of Giving, but what’s the exact cost of “giving?”


    Let’s break down the holidays, shall we?


    First, Thanksgiving.


    According to The International Business Times, “The traditional Thanksgiving feast consists of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.” The cost of this revered feast saw a 44-cent decline in price from $49.48 in 2012 to $49.04 in 2013. Remember, many families will include other side dishes or desserts in with their meal, driving the cost up even more.


    Families will travel a couple of miles, states or cross country to get to their love ones this time of year causing bustling airports and highways; but just how many people are traveling and how much are they spending? More than 43 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend. Meaning about 38 million by automobile and approximately 3.14 million airline travelers. The average airline ticket can cost over 180 dollars, multiply that buy four-six family members and you have yourself a costly trip! However, gas prices have been at a 4-year low, averaging around $3.00 in some places, allowing many drivers to save while travelling. (AAA Newsroom)


    Next, let’s look at Christmas.


    Thanksgiving and Christmas meals often share similar delicacies, let’s assume a Christmas feast will cost roughly the same as Thanksgiving. Add on a few more dollars for the extra candy, cookies, eggnog and punch, you find yourself dishing out around 60+ dollars for a meal; not including decorative cups, plates and napkins!


    Many folks will either travel to see family or friends this time of year or take a vacation. According to USA Today, “It’ll cost $406, on average, to travel to New York” the most popular holiday destination other than Orlando. Overall, flying rates are up 8% from last year, and “’Every day you wait for your virtual airline ticket, add about $7 to $8…and if you wait until the second week in December you could start adding about $15 a day,’ said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare” (ABC News). Therefore, if you are making travel plans, make them early and do your research.


    Since it is the “season of giving” gifts and presents make up the area many people will spend the most on. The average American will spend approximately $704 total on Christmas gifts this year. That’s a modest number, considering some people will go as high as 1,000 to 2,000 dollars… yikes.


    The holiday season with its feelings of love and giving also brings many donation campaigns drawing people to give to more than just their families. Charity Navigator put together a Holiday Giving Guide for users and “In a survey by Ask Your Target Market, 57% of respondents said they do donate to charity in some way over the holiday season. Of those who do, 46% said they make a monetary donation directly to an organization, 64% donate to a third party like a bell ringer or store that collects donations for a charity at checkout, 24% buy gifts for people through a mitten tree or adopt-a-family program, 63% donate items like home goods or nonperishable foods, and 22% donate time by volunteering.”


    Finally, let’s break down the decorations. Trees, you’ll spend on average $40 for a real tree and $70 for an artificial tree, not including ornaments or lights! Speaking of lights, according to NSTAR Electric and Gas, if you are using 10 strings of lights outdoors for ~6 hours a day for a 30 day period, you can end up spending over 55 extra dollars on electricity, for the lights alone!


    Overall, this is just a small sampling of holiday costs as the average numbers were given. We must remember going into this Christmas season, even if it seems like it at times, the holiday’s aren’t all about money.


    As the good ole Dr. Seuss said,


    “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

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