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Holiday spending leaves many renters in the red

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The holiday season in a big city can be magical: the lights, the food, the gifts, the music! But from Thanksgiving until New Year's, all that cheer can leave some households that rent with a financial hangover, according to a new analysis from the website Rent Cafe.

How much of a hangover can depend on which major city a renter calls home. On average, U.S. renters in the biggest metropolitan areas will emerge $400 in debt after all the festive spending on top of rent and regular living expenses like everyday food and health care, the analysis found. 

To get to that figure, Rent Cafe started with an average of $6,500 in household income during November and December. They subtracted $2,800 for rent, $3,000 for living expenses and $1,000 for holiday spending. 

But the range is huge, depending on where you light candles, hang the mistletoe or sip champagne. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, New Yorkers wind up with the biggest hole in their balance sheets, at $4,200, according to the analysis. Put another way, New Yorkers need $4,200 in savings to emerge from the season unscathed by debt. That's partly because the average two-month rent bill alone is about $7,600, according to the analysis.

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Seattle residents are luckier -- or at least have fewer expenses. Renters there wind up with the biggest surplus of the top 20 markets at $1,700. Of the top metro areas, Minneapolis winds up in the middle, with a balance of zero. 

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Rent Cafe used figures from the U.S. Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Retail Federation and retail site Yardi Matrix to calculate the seasonal budgets. 

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