Recover From Holiday Debts in 5 Steps

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January 14, 2015

Did you spend a little too much over the holidays?  If so, paying bills and getting things under control this month a little stressful. It may feel overwhelming but, with a little discipline and organization, you can get things back on track. Here are some suggestions:

Avoid Denial

It’s tempting to put your head in the sand but this is a bad idea for a few reasons.

  1. You need to know exactly how much you owe so that you can make a repayment plan. This means that you actually have to open the bills when they arrive in your mailbox (don’t put them aside!).
  2. Things might not be as bad as they seem which can be a big relief.
  3. You don’t want to miss due dates and end up with late fees and other charges.

Prioritize Debt

You may have heard this before and it’s true – if you put purchases on your credit card, focus on that right away. If you used more than one card, pick the one that has the highest interest rate. The goal is to avoid paying more in interest than you really have to. It will amaze you how quickly that extra expense can add up.

Save Little by Little

It might not seem possible to save anything right now but even if you just commit to putting spare change in a jar, you might be surprised by how much you accumulate over time. For a more structured approach, consider the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge. Every week, you will set aside the amount associated with where you are in the year (save $20 during week 20 and $33 during the 33rd week, for example). In the end, you will have more than $1,300!

Brown Bag It

Get really disciplined and take your lunch to work with you every single day. Sure, some fast food places have really cheap menu items but it literally costs pennies to make sandwich at home (and it’s better for your health). The same thing applies to hitting drive-thrus for coffee and tea. Make your hot drinks at home and carry them in a reusable travel mug. Your wallet – and the environment – will thank you!

Be a Homebody

Instead of going out to the movies or having dinner at a restaurant, find some ways to entertain and feed yourself at home (at least till your bills are all caught up!). A month of Netflix costs less than one movie theater ticket and you will have hundreds of titles to choose from. Put down your phone and play a board game with friends and family. Try new recipes (the cold weather makes it perfect for baking!). There is so much you can do without having to spend much money.

Whatever approach you take, remember that, while it might be a drag for a while, it will feel so much better to get your finances in order. After all, there’s only 11 months till holiday shopping starts all over again…

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