Buying gifts and hosting parties during the holiday season definitely puts a dent in the ole wallet. Whether you mean to or not, it’s very easy to go overboard and spend more than you planned. Once January 2 rolls around, the reality of the situation hits you in the face and you’re left wondering if you’ll need to eat a six-month diet of Ramen noodles just to afford it all.
Buck up, excessive shopper! You don’t have to starve or stop doing fun things in order to put money back in your bank account. A few simple changes to the way you do things for a couple of months should have you out of the red and ready to take on the next holiday season.
1. If credit cards were your downfall during the holiday season, put them away immediately. By “put them away,” I mean, literally. Take them out of your wallet and leave them at home. That old saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies here in grand fashion. Those after-holiday sales are just too tempting to be carrying around already-overloaded credit cards.
2. Buy everything with cash. When you can physically see the money leaving your hand, you’ll be better able to limit yourself when spending.
3. If the after-holiday sales are just too tempting, make it a point to stay out of the stores for a while. If you must go, go with a list of things you need and stick to it. If you just can’t resist taking advantage of post-Christmas sales, try returning some of the unwanted gifts you got to free up some extra funds.
4. Turn down the heat. Just adjusting the thermostat down a couple of degrees can mean big savings on your utility bill that in turn can be used to pay off holiday credit card debt.
5. Do your taxes as soon as possible. If you know you’ll get a refund, the sooner you do your taxes, the sooner you’ll receive the money and be able to pay down your holiday debt.
6. Bypass the light switches and burn candles instead. Relaxing in the evenings by candlelight is a great way to save money on your electric bill.
7. Make a plan for paying off debt. Use a spreadsheet or notebook to document your bills and how and when you plan to pay them off. When you see it in black and white, you’re more able to accurately gauge how much you need and how long it will take to pay it all off. This technique also enables you to see where you went overboard so you can avoid making the same mistakes next season.
8. Eat at home more often. If your family eats out several times a week, you can save a ton of money by eating in more often. Sure, you’ll need to purchase more groceries, but it’s definitely cheaper than eating out, and it’s much better for your health, too. I’m not saying you have to quit eating out altogether, but if you’re used to eating out three times a week, cut it back to just once a week or even once every other week to notice quick savings in your bank account.
Photo credit: Thinkstock