Many of us vow to limit holiday spending, then get so wrapped up in the season that we spend money we simply do not have. If you’re dismayed by the size of your holiday bills, know that you are not alone. According to Bankrate.com, the average consumer needs about six months to pay off the purchases they made during the “most wonderful time of the year.” Fortunately, you can get your finances back on track by setting a few straight-forward goals.
Tackle Your Credit Cards
If you charged many (or all) of your purchases, you are probably feeling the sting right about now. One of the best things you can do is closely examine your cards to make sure all of the charges are correct. You’d be surprised by how many fraudulent transactions people find on their statements, especially this time of year.
Next, dispute anything that doesn’t look right. While you are at it, talk to your credit card company about your rate. If they can’t lower it, consider transferring your current balance to a card with a lower interest rate. This will help you pay off the balance quicker.
Slash Your Expenses
Do you have cable channels that you never watch? Review your cable package and see whether you can go down to a lower tier. Get rid of any premium or movie channels that you don’t really need.
Next, review your cell phone plan. Could you use less data? Is your mobile company willing to renegotiate your plan to give you a better deal? It never hurts to ask!
Finally, stop eating take-out or visiting the drive-thru (even for coffee). Come up with a plan to eat as inexpensively as possible for a few months and use the money to pay down your debt.
Start saving now
If you can spare an extra $50 a month, you can begin saving for the next holiday season now (it’s only 11 months away!). If you save this small amount every month, you will have $600 by December to spend on gifts and other festive items—without going into debt.
You may even find that, after a year of being financially responsible, you’ll choose ways of celebrating that require less spending. Bonus!
Now that the holidays are over, it’s easy to regret your holiday splurging, but with a little planning and serious commitment you will be back on (financial) track in no time!