Three Tips to Combat your Holiday Hangover

It’s January, the calendar has turned to the New Year, the weather is a bit colder, and I’m sure by now the bills from your holiday spending have starting rolling in. Now is not the time to run and hide from these bills, it’s time to put you big boy or girl pants on and face the spending or overspending you did late last year. There are no do over’s, you purchase the stuff, gave the gifts, drank, eat and where merry all while in the middle of the holiday spirit. Not feeling so jolly now that your statements are a little larger than expect? That you went a too little overboard or over budget on the holiday festivities? So let’s review three tips to combat your holiday hangover.

Assess Damage

The first step is to assess the damage you did. Make sure you have all the bills, credit cards, etc. accounted and organize them. Do you have any returns, or exchanges to make? If so get them done, you don’t want to leave money on the table. Many merchants have set policies and time frames for returns/exchanges. Did you purchase something and now see it on sale at a lower price? Some stores offer price adjustments check to see if one is available for your item. My wife was able to get a $15 price adjustment on a gift we purchased by simply showing our receipt. Once organized you will have a grand total of the damage and can begin to build a plan to attack it.

holiday hangover

Build a Plan

The good news is there are no major Holidays until Easter. Sorry ladies Valentine’s Day is not a major holiday, and there are plenty of ways to save money. Have your man cook a nice meal at home for you. I buy my wife flowers all the time, no reason to pay triple on February 14th. For my Irish readers St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of cash at the bar on Guinness at the pub. Buy some and drink it at home.

If holiday debt is your only debt you need to come up with a plan to attack it, if you have other debts you may consider adding this to it or leave it as a separate line item. Either way you need to work this into your overall budget and figure the best way to conquer it. I’m a fan of the snowball method for paying off debt. It builds momentum, it celebrates the small wins and I believe that’s important when trying to change behaviors.

If you need a refresher on building a get out of debt plan see my detailed post on the topic.

Save and Prepare for the next Holiday Season

It’s never to early to start planning for next year, the good news is it’s a leap year and you have an extra day before Christmas. While your shopping and spending is still fresh in your mind from last year, evaluate it. What caused the Holiday Hangover? Did you buy for too many people, spend too much per gift, go overboard on food, etc. Starting now gives you time to set the groundwork for next season. Maybe you need to talk with family members and set spending limits or only buy for certain members or pick names from a hat. You may be surprised when having these types of conversations. You may find others are struggling with holiday debt too and are looking for ways to cut cost. Once you have an outline for you can begin prepare.

You could start saving money now. The 52 week saving challenge is a good way to do it, or start buying a gift a month. There are many ways to get creative and ahead of the holiday season to prevent overspending or going into debt. Use last year as an example, or previous years, learn from it so you don’t repeat the Holiday Hangover cycle.

Did you spend more money than expected on the Holidays? What’s your best tips to avoid a Holiday Hangover?

34 thoughts on “Three Tips to Combat your Holiday Hangover”

  1. Luckily we didn’t have too much of a financial holiday hangover. I spread out most of my shopping, so while I spent a little more on presents than necessary – it wasn’t horrid. Plus I love giving gifts, so I don’t mind if I spend an extra $100 or so.

    My biggest holiday hangover is coming back to work and not getting to spend as much time with my family as would like. I just feel like I’m trading time for money.

  2. I paid for gifts all along so the holidays didn’t hit me all at once. I also created a holiday spending budget – and stuck to it! No holiday hangover for me, but only because I planned ahead!

    1. I agree on the food part, so much, but so good. So true with a little planning the holiday do not need to be stressful at all.

  3. We avoided a holiday hangover, but unfortunately had an insurance one from switching providers, which meant three premiums instead of one (don’t ask). I know it will catch up over the next two months, but for now, ouch!
    In the meantime, no extras for a while.

  4. Thankfully my December spending was very minimal and I kept the damage to almost none which is great. I do however think it is a great idea to start a little saving now for the next holidays. A little bit each month will go a long ways come next December.

  5. We overspent a little on gifts for our 2 boys but that never bothers me :). That’s a good tip about looking to see if the cost of an item has decreased and ask the store to match it. Happy New Year!

  6. I think the 52 week saving challenge is the way to go. You end up saving over $1,600 by the end of the year. Another way to think about it is you save ~$1.5k by the time the holidays are here – perfect timing!

  7. We didn’t over-do it too much – except with Christmas cookies! I really like the idea of setting aside a special holiday fund and building it throughout the year. I can imagine that it really takes the pressure off when December rolls around…

  8. I did spend more than I wanted to over the holidays. Some of it included business expenses and also a mini-vacation. Excited to start fresh and build wealth this year, instead of pay off debt!

  9. While I did some overspending last year, it had nothing to do with the holidays, which came in under budget. But I think you’re right that by planning ahead now, next year you can avoid the problems that caused overspending in the past.

  10. Great post Brian!! I literally gave this advice to a client last week who was struggling after an indulgent holiday season. I told her that she needed to give herself a break, but that she had to face the reality of what happened and make the plan to move forward. It’s like eating that extra slice of pizza. Do I wish I didn’t? Yes, but can I take it back, no! All I can do it work it off and try not to eat as much pizza going forward.

  11. One thing I’ve done in the past is to create a “holiday time capsule.” People tend to forget from year to year all the little things they spent money on during the holiday season. Write them down, and put them in the box with the decorations. next year, pull out your decorations, pull out the list and say, “Oh, that’s right, I can’t forget to budget for……XXX”

  12. I’m happy to say that we kept it under control this year and didn’t spend much at all over the holidays. Hopefully we can carry that into 2016!

  13. I never really thought about it before, but January is probably the perfect time to discuss changing next year’s gift giving plans with your friends or extended family – right when everyone is feeling the crunch from this year. When you wait till October or November to bring it up, most of them aren’t thinking about how lousy their bills were the previous January.

  14. Great advice for next years holiday planning and for getting back on track with cash flow. IT goes to show that those who plan do well in the end. I am ready to asses my damage and it wasn’t too bad this year around 500 bucks spent on gifts.

  15. I don’t know why more people don’t do an old fashioned “Christmas Club” account at their local bank or credit union. It’s easy to set up and it comes out every pay period. Ours automatically rolls over, so once we receive one year’s money (in October), it’s already starting to build for the following year. That also means that in January, we already have 25% of next Christmas’ money in the bank!

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