The holidays are a great time for the economy, but a bad time for consumers. That is to say, we all love the celebration of the holidays, of spending time with friends and family, of giving and getting gifts, but the aftermath for many can be a nightmare. People tend to overspend at the holidays in a very big way, and some struggle all year just to get back to the point where they can overspend again next year.
It can be a vicious cycle, and for many, it seems there’s no way out of it. You can take some reasonable steps to get your finances back in order after the New Year arrives, and you’re getting back into the swing of life. Learn how to get your budget back on track after holiday spending, the steps you need to take and the things you need to consider to keep your finances under control.
Losing Control of Your Budget
Of course, the biggest factor in dealing with holiday spending is acknowledging that you went over your holiday budget this year and commit to fix it. The best way to get your budget on track is not to lose track of it to begin with. Right now, make a vow to yourself to set budget limits next year, prioritize your gifting and improve your spending habits, so you don’t end up in the same boat after the next holiday season.
The Dangers of Credit Cards
We live in a plastic society. There’s no doubt about that. It’s really easy just to pull a card out of your wallet and stick it into the machine. It’s almost like magic how simple it seems. Of course, when you’re not watching the money leave your wallet like you do with cash, it’s also really easy to lose track of how much you spend.
That’s how debts rack up during the holidays. People don’t think about what they’re spending until it’s too late. There’s a lot of ways you can limit this for next year — for one thing, consider going back to cash. Sure, it’s an extra step to go to the ATM, but you’ll be much more aware of what you’ve got to spend.
Look Over Your Debts
Next, look over your debts. Really take time to sit down and review where you are. It’s vital that you understand just what you have to pay off if you expect to get back in financial shape after the holidays. You need to treat your holiday debts like any other utility payment. Understand that if you’re just making minimum payments, you’ll likely never get out from under those debts. Figure out what you need to pay to get them paid down.
Reduce Regular Spending
So, you overspent during the holidays. It happens to everyone at the holiday season, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You will, however, need to tighten the belt to get yourself back in shape. You’ll need to cut down on your expenses.
Instead of going out to eat, have a sandwich. Take a bus instead of driving. When you grocery shop, don’t buy name-brand groceries. Plan your meals out in advance. Turn down the thermostat by a couple of degrees. Any little thing you can do to cut those expenses, do it.
Above all else, avoid post-holiday sales. That’s the worst kind of trap. If you head to the mall or even check your favorite online retailers after the holidays, you’ll be inundated with clearance sales and great post-holiday deals. Don’t take advantage — you’re trying to pay off your bills, not add more.
Redeem Points, and Return Unwanted Gifts
We have this idea that it’s rude to return an unwanted gift, but in truth it’s just smart. Why keep something that you don’t like or aren’t going to use? If you can return it and get money back for it, that person has given you the gift of helping to pay down a bill, and that’s something very valuable. Don’t be afraid to return gifts.
Likewise, you may have racked up a lot of points on your credit card over the holidays. Instead of redeeming them on an online retailer for more stuff, turn them around and redeem them against the balance you hold. Most credit card companies offer this option, and it’s shocking how many people don’t realize it’s there.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Even beyond cutting out your frivolous expenses, you need to set a budget and stick to it. No matter how badly you might want something shiny and new that comes your way, and no matter how badly you might want to see that new movie the day it hits theaters, if it isn’t in the budget, don’t do it. That can seem harsh, and it can be tough. It takes willpower, but in the end, it’s best all around. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you can splurge a little again, but until you get those bills paid down, be strict with yourself.
Start a Savings
While you’re planning your budget, start a savings. Decide how much you can afford to put away, even if it’s only a few bucks a week. Set that as not just a goal, but a requirement for yourself. Put it in a special, specific place. It could be a savings account in the bank, or it could be the old-fashioned sock under your mattress. At first, it’ll be tempting to skip a week; don’t do it. The more weeks you go putting that money away, the easier and more habitual it will become.
This way, when next year comes around, you won’t have to overspend, because you’ll have put a bunch of money away already. You may even get away with having some leftover next year, which will mean you don’t have bills to pay off, and you’re ahead of the game!
Consolidate Your Debts
It can seem counterproductive to take out more debt in order to pay off existing debts, but when used correctly, a debt consolidation loan can be one of the best ways to deal with that post-holiday spending funk. It can allow you to take all of your high-percentage credit card bills and put them all together in a single payment, which will likely have a lower interest rate, while at the same time offering you a lower monthly payment and the surety that you are, in fact, paying off the debt.
Koster Cash Loans
If you’re looking to get your finances in order, Koster Cash Loans is here to help. We don’t just lend money; we help our customers with the tools they need to improve their credit, get their spending under control and achieve financial stability. Unexpected emergencies and mistakes can happen to anyone. We get that. We’re here to help you out so you can get back on your feet once more.
If you need help with a cash loan, just log onto our website or stop into any one of our 12 locations across the Las Vegas area and fill out a simple finance loan application today!