Did you spend a lot for the holidays?
If so, your financial health may be causing some stress in the New Year. Whether you overspent on gifts or travel expenses, you can still exercise some damage control. Let’s take a close look at your financial standing and how you can clean up the holiday spending aftermath.
1. Assess the new debt load
If you charged most of your holiday gifts to credit cards (join the club), it’s important to review your newly acquired debt and put together a payoff plan. Gaining clarity on the state of your finances early in the year can help prevent procrastination (you don’t want to be carrying that high balance when Labor Day rolls around). Consider this new debt a cost or expense of the holiday season that needs to be paid sooner rather than later. Kick-off the New Year with a bang—and not post-holiday financial stress.
2. Review possible gift returns
If you received any gifts that you don’t like or have use for, fish out that gift receipt. You may be able to take the items back for store credit and pick out something you really need. That way you save money and won’t have to dip into your savings or charge a credit card. Exchanging unwanted gifts for something you’ll truly use will also relieve any guilt over ‘returning’ a present.
3. Send in all rebates
Many big ticket items, including computers, televisions and music systems, were sold with a rebate offer during the holiday season. By taking full advantage of these rebates offer cash back and retailers make it easy to send in rebates via smartphone. Sending in all rebate materials early means you’ll have extra cash to pay off debt or simply restore your savings account.
4. Take advantage of post-holiday sales
You’ll find plenty of markdowns on popular items, for example, holiday decorations, fitness equipment, open--box electronics (tech that has been opened and returned) and linens. Buying them on sale now means you won’t have to pay full price next year, which may also help you reduce future holiday expenses. You can put the gift away for next holiday season and cross one off of your shopping list.
5. Set three month budget goals
Starting off the year with short-term goals can make managing holiday financial stress easier. Setting a three-month budget goal can help you stay focused. Start by tracking all of your expenses and create a realistic spending plan for the rest of the winter. By cutting back on non-essentials, funds can be put toward paying down debt and increasing your savings. Review your budget on a regular basis and make adjustments for any unplanned expenses, new credit card debt or new loans.
If you went beyond your budget this holiday season, review your finances, set goals and consider making tweaks to your spending habits. Visit our tips page for additional help on getting out of debt or setting financial goals.
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