Feeling a bit queasy at the thought of holiday aftermath? Here’s an article that may put you on the right path:
8 Things To Do After You’ve Overspent for the Holiday Season
By Chonce Maddox / Last updated: December 25, 2016 / Debt, Personal Finance, Save Money
Christmas is over and it’s not uncommon to feel slightly afraid to look at your finances if you feel like you’ve overspent during these past few weeks. The holiday season is an expensive time when you consider the parties, decorations, food, gift giving, traveling, hosting relatives, etc.
Even if you set a realistic budget, there’s still a chance of overspending if you fail to plan for some hidden expenses.
I originally planned to finish all my shopping way before Christmas but somehow still found myself making trips to the store for last minute things I forgot about so it happens. According to a Gallup poll, Americans plan on spending an average of $720 on gifts and at least 25% end up spending $1,000 or more. If you didn’t plan on spending that much money over the holiday season but wound up spending it anyway, it’s time to focus on how you will get your finances back on track.
1) Assess the Damage
Start by assessing the damage. You won’t have a full understanding of your situation until you actually calculate how much you spent, any debt you’ve accumulated, and any other financial consequences like late fees if you’ve missed due dates for any of your bills.
Gather receipts and view your bank and credit card statements in detail. Make a commitment to tracking your spending on a regular basis.
2) Manage Your Credit Card Debt
If you have a credit card, start to put together a plan that will help you pay it off. Your first step should be to stop spending on your credit cards. Put them away or ask someone you trust to hide them for you.
My husband and I have credit cards that have been tucked away for over a year. Not having them in your wallet really helps remove that temptation to keep spending.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you are paying at least the minimum payment each month, but depending on what your balance is, sticking to the minimum payment could cause you to spend several long months paying off your debt.
Try to make extra payments if you can, and consider consolidating your debt and transferring your balance to another credit card that offers a 0% APR and no balance transfer fees.
This could help you escape a credit card with a high-interest rate allowing you to pay off your debt faster.
3) Focus on Snowballing the Rest of Your Debt
If you racked up any other debt over the holidays like a personal loan, focus on paying off debt one by one meaning choose one debt to make extra payments on then pay the minimum on the other accounts for the time being.
Knocking out your debt one by one will allow you to focus more and not feel so overwhelmed.
4) Return Anything You Don’t Want/Need
Have buyer’s guilt? If you realize that you didn’t actually need or want something you purchases, feel free to return it if you have the receipt. Be sure to check the store’s return and exchange policy to make sure you can bring the item back.
Most stores allow shoppers to make returns weeks after Christmas. If you can’t return an item that you’d like to get rid of, consider selling it for cash.
5) Avoid Certain Stores
Once you’ve returned any items you didn’t want to keep, commit to staying out of both physical and online stores for a bit. Christmas usually leaves us with a lot of extra stuff so there’s often no need to keep shopping.
If you know which stores are your triggers, be sure to avoid them for the next few weeks to save money. You should also, unsubscribe from any retailer’s mailing list so you don’t see anything about ‘post-holiday blowout sales’, BOGO deals, or coupons.
6) Go on a Spending Freeze
If you do rack up debt over the holidays as a result of overspending and want to make extra payments, you’ll need to stop spending as much and even possibly see if you can earn more money.
Going on a spending freeze can be a great way to reset your finances and start the year off by spending less. Consider putting all unnecessary spending on halt for a few days or a week.
Avoid dining out, eat through your cabinets, find free ways to entertain yourself, get creative and use what you already have at home. Then, pocket the money you would have spent and put it toward your debt.
7) Update Your Budget
You may need to shift some categories around in order to compensate for the extra money you spent over the past few weeks.
Let’s say you were late paying a bill so you could have enough money to cover an immediate holiday expense. Sure it’s not the most responsible thing to do but calling a lender or bill company and asking if you could make your payment a week late beats taking out a loan.
You just need to make sure you fulfill your end of the agreement and actually pay and deal with any other consequences like additional fees.
To get your finances back on track, you’ll need to cut or reduce some budget categories that are flexible like perhaps your grocery budget, your daily coffee, your clothing budget, entertainment expenses, and so on.
You can also start using the cash envelope system to ensure you are spending as little as possible on non-necessity expenses so you can make the important payments needed to get back on track.
8) Find a Way to Earn Extra Money
Finally, it’s always a good idea to explore your options for making extra money. Earning more money will help you pay off any debt you incurred faster and rebuild your savings account.
If you negotiated a raise with your employer after your annual review, be sure to dedicate the pay increase to getting your finances back on track.
Also, brainstorm any ideas that sound like an interesting side hustle opportunity. You can freelance, sell things, babysit, do landscaping and snow removal, wait tables in the evenings and on weekends, sell things online, give lessons, tutor etc.
You don’t have to put in crazy hours to see big results either. Even if you only put in 5-10 hours per week, the extra money you earn will help your bottom line.
Plan Accordingly and Take Action
It’s not always easy to get your finances back on track after surviving an expensive holiday season, but the key is to plan accordingly and be willing to take action to fix your finances.
It all comes down to regaining control of your spending and maximizing your income so you can pay down debt, budget better, and not feel financially fatigued anymore.
If spending got away from you this holiday season perhaps debt amortization is in order. Debt amortization is uniquely available to Wisconsin residents. During this process select debts are chosen to be part of an interest free repayment plan. Debt amortization or Chapter 128 is a very effective tool for individuals who may be in a circumstance where they are not able to live up to the payments required by the creditor; but who could afford to pay if given more time. This non-bankruptcy plan can amount to a huge savings for the individual and peace of mind knowing wages are protected from execution or garnishment.
For more information on non-bankruptcy repayment options and to see if you qualify visit www.esserlaw.com