Thoughtful presents, affectionate reminiscences and tasty food of the holiday season are all behind us. Sadly, statements with holiday spending have already flooded mailboxes nationwide. This time of year used to be filled with financial anxiety for my family, but we’ve been able to stay on target since implementing our spending plan. You, too, can become successful at budgeting at home if you develop a plan and stick to it. Here’s how you can dig your family out of holiday debt:
- Speak to Your Lenders. If you’re having trouble paying off your credit cards, are over your limit or struggling to pay the mortgage, make an arrangement with your lenders to pay something off each month. The worst thing you can do is ignore your creditors if they start calling; most of them are willing to negotiate a payment plan because it means that they will get their money eventually, rather than not at all. Don’t be enticed into taking out high-interest short term loans. You will end up paying too much in interest.
- Liquidate Assets. For some of you that may mean selling your home or borrowing from your 401K plan. It can also mean selling an illiquid asset such as future payments from an annuity, pension or settlement. Paying off high-interest balances is a step in the right direction if you are looking to get back on your feet, reluctant though you may be to sell.
- Come Up With a Spending Plan. It’s really difficult to acknowledge you bungled your finances and ended up in a hole. This is where budgeting software programs or a budget planner come in. You need to use your budget manager to take a look at your holiday credit card statements and record how much you owe on each of them and their interest rates. Pay down the ones with higher interest rates first, and then deal with the others. Decide how much time you need to pay them all off and what amount of money you’ll be putting toward bills every month, then start working on reducing your debt.
- Cut Back Financially. Dieting is a popular new year’s resolution. You can also try to cut back your spending in 2012. See if you can cut out all needless purchases for the next four to six weeks. Under this spending plan, you only buy what you truly need and you focus on paying off your credit card debt. Once you’ve recovered from last year’s spending, you can do some financial budgeting to see how you can set aside some money every month for the next holiday season.
Whatever you choose to do, you should not ignore step 1 – making the first call as soon as you think that you may not be able to make your payments on time.
How important are Holiday gifts to your family? Can you reasonably cut back on them? Leave a comment and let us know!