The Sneaky Time of Year You're Most Likely to Overspend
We all know the holiday season can empty our wallets, but here are a few other months when spending creeps higher.
When You Can't Stop Singing The Go-Go's "Vacation"
Most of us plan on taking time off over the summer, but we start booking those trips—and prepaying for our flights, hotels and rental cars—in March, says Shane Holdaway, managing vice president at Capital One. Our aversion to logging hours at the airport can also (understandably) drive up costs: In the company's May 2013 survey
, 70 percent of respondents said they would choose to pay more for a direct flight rather than have to deal with a layover. If you don't want to do the connecting-flight dash but you're flexible on where you take off (or land), our editors found that checking the "Add Nearby Airports" box when you're searching for flights can save you up to $41.
When the Weather Outside Is Frightful
You may want to adjust your budget this winter—and not just to accommodate a few last-minute holiday gifts. Ninety percent of homeowners can expect their heating costs to rise this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts. Natural gas customers can expect a 13 percent hike—translating roughly to spending $679 to stay toasty from October through March. Propane users will spend about $1,666, on average, to heat their homes through winter (a 9 percent increase) and keeping electrically heated homes warm is estimated to cost $909 (up 2 percent)
. One way to offset this increase: Check the spaces around electrical outlets and window frames for air leaks. Sealing them with caulk or insulating foam can shave 9 percent off your heating bill.
When There's a Cake in Your Office Every Other Day
September is often a one-two punch to your wallet—end-of-summer trips and
back-to-school shopping make this the second most expensive time of year, Holdaway says—but it can be even more painful if you're caught off-guard by a bevy of birthday and baby-shower invitations. And you very well might be: More people are born in September than any other month, according to 2011 Census data
. (In case you're wondering, the 16th is the most popular birthdate, based on a New York Times table-ranking of U.S. baby births between 1973 and 1999
). The travel-school-birthday trifecta gets even pricier when you multiply each slice of sheet cake by $44—the average amount people spend on a gift for a close friend, a Chase/LearnVest survey shows.
When Cabin Fever Gives You the Itch to Tear Down the Walls
Roughly 72 percent of homeowners plan on tackling a decorating project before the end of 2014—and 40 percent are planning a full-blown renovation—reports Houzz, an online database for home design and remodeling. Bathroom and kitchen remodels are the most popular projects cited, at an average price tag of $12,700 and $26,800, respectively.
If you don't have the means to install a claw-foot tub but you can't stand staring at your circa-2002 Tiffany blue-and-brown bathroom any longer, Young House Love bloggers Sherry and John Petersik recommend swapping out three items to make the biggest impact on your bathroom: the shower curtain, trash can and soap pump
When a Certain Winged Cherub Has You in His Crosshairs
The average couple spends $139 for dinner on Valentine's Day, compared to $85 at a restaurant any other evening of the year, according to data from OpenTable.com
. The second and third most expensive times to dine out are Mother's Day and New Year's Eve, the site says.
About 40 percent of people don't talk to their partner about holiday spending—and 57 percent say they believe their boyfriend/girlfriend/we-prefer-not-to-use-titles-person-I'm-seeing will spend more than they planned, an October 2013 Capital One survey found. While this research was focused on budgeting for the Thanksgiving through New Year's holidays, talking about how much to spend before any
big night could help curb costs.
When Someone Else Says "I Do"
Even if you already have a wedding fund, you may want to start another one—for everybody else's nuptials. The average guest shells out $539 per ceremony, up from $339 in 2012, an April 2013 American Express survey reveals
. That number climbs to $577 if you're a part of the wedding party, with the biggest portion of the costs going toward travel, a new outfit and picking out the exact eggplant stand mixer (or immersion blender or silk dinner-napkin set) from the registry.
When It's Too Cold to Go Jogging
Exercise equipment tends to be most expensive from November through February, when the thought of taking your workout outdoors sends you into a full-body shiver. Prices tend to drop by March
, says Coupons.com household savings expert Jeanette Pavini, and you can usually find a deal on everything from treadmills and ellipticals to pull-up bars and kettlebells.
Next: The best time of year to buy anything