Holiday Hindsight is 20-20

About three weeks ago, as the holiday season kicked into high gear, I vowed to put all my receipts into a folder to better track my spending.

And although I didn’t want to look at that pile of receipts, never mind add them up, a promise is a promise.

Plus, I needed to know my exact holiday tally in order to save ahead for next year.

Together my husband and I spent $904—about $650 more than planned!

What happened? And how can we all be smarter next year?
  Leave out nothing. My fictional holiday budget had way too many gaps. I left out travel (including my dad’s visit), batteries, wrapping—and most of all the food and wine you bake or bring as gifts. Add the oops factor. Just as you need a savings account for curveballs in life, build in 10% extra for holiday surprises: “Oops, we forgot to get the pre-K teacher a gift!” Save accurately. Now that I know my oops-and-all number, I know that I must save $75 per month for next year. Or die trying.
Don’t dally—tally! How much do you need to save for next year?