If you’re like most people, you spent a little more than you had planned over the holidays.
After spending your budget, there is always another must-have item demanding to be bought. That leaves you with unplanned debt on top of your already larger-than-should-be debt. What to do?
The fastest and easiest thing to do is to take a look at your cash management. Yep, that means revisiting your old pal – the budget :) It’s time to hunker down and face your finances. Find out what your current account balances are, how much you owe and an update on how much you are bringing in. Now take a look at where you can tighten the purse string strings just a little to make up for the over-spending.
For me, I gravitate directly to the grocery spending category. Why Groceries? Well, not only did I spend more on food over the holidays, but I also put on a few extra pounds that I didn’t want to! So, I cut down right away on junk food and snacks. Also, reduce or eliminate eating out until you’re back on track. To be specific, I use Visalus, the meal replacement shake, which is not only healthier than regular food, it’s cheaper and helps me lose the weight I put on :) Cutting down on grocery spending also helps you keep that New Years’ Resolution to release that excess weight back into the wild.
Aside from groceries, you can cut down on entertainment since (hopefully) you can be entertained from gifts received over the holidays. Since entertainment is usually pretty expensive, this alone can help immensely. Do you go out to the movies a lot? Try borrowing a book or movie from the library! Free is good, and they often have a great selection!
What other New Years’ goals have you set that you may be able to work on with a budget? Maybe your goal is to spend more time with your family. That means less time out where you are spending money. Maybe your goal is to exercise more. RESIST the temptation to run out and buy a membership at a gym, that you will inevitably stop using but be left in a contract. Instead, exercise at home. You don’t need a universal machine to work out. Just some small free-weights (or books) and a video you can borrow from your local public library.
Another quick thing to check — go to PayPal.com and your credit card statement and check to see if there are any online services that you really don’t use or could eliminate. Maybe a service you use, such as CalendarBudget has converted from pay to free! Don’t just consume the savings – use it to pay down your holiday debt.
Once your holiday debt is close to being eliminated – you should consider sticking with your new plan; especially if it’s helping you reach your New Years’ goals. That extra money you found can be put directly towards your outstanding debt and get you to a better place financially. Maybe it’s time to build up that depleted (or non-existent) emergency fund or start saving for a vacation that you can pay for in full in advance! Imagine that!