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.
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.
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?