You’ve made it through your grandpa’s jokes during the Christmas meal and handed out all of your gifts. The holiday season has officially wrapped up, but the bills from your holiday shopping certainly haven’t. Post-holiday financial stress is no joke. As the holidays become memories, the fun indulgences give way to large bills and pressing due dates.
January doesn’t have to be such a shock, however, if you put some practices into place. If you start now, you can transform the unpleasant experience of paying the price for the holidays into stress-free chore.
Let’s take a look at some ways to recover from overspending.
Make sure you have the funds to pay credit card bills
Adding a line in your December budget to pay for higher credit card costs is a smart way to plan ahead. Many of you are using the gift-giving and party days of December to rack up points and rewards on credit cards, and while that can be a solid strategy, don’t forget to plan for the results.
Even a simple extra payment in January can reduce your overall bill total and get you set up to win with your finances for the rest of the year.
Create a slush fund
Even better than planning for your minimum payments in January is creating a budget all year to save for holiday expenses. You can still use your credit cards if you want to rack up points, but now you have the funds already sitting in an account to pay off the total when everything is over.
Alternately, you can pay cash for your holiday merriment and not even worry about a looming credit bill come January. All the better to enjoy the gifts of the season knowing you’ve paid for them outright.
Assess the situation
Ok, you didn’t plan throughout the year or in December for larger bills, and now you have a situation on your hands. While this may be a time you’d like to ignore the total cost, that’s only going to cause you a headache in the long run.
It’s important to sit down and take an honest look at your finances in January since this both sets the tone for the coming year, and allows you to reconcile the previous year. Once you rip the band-aid off and understand what you owe, this makes it easier to make a sound plan to pay off the debt.
Find creative solutions
Don’t just make the minimum payments. You can find creative ways to lessen your debt load. Consider transferring balances to cards with lower interest rates, or consolidating credit balances to make one easy payment.
You can also rethink your overall budget to find ways to put more money into repaying the debt. No one says to give up all your luxuries forever, but you might put a hold on that fancy coffee for a few months until you reach your goal. When you get something paid off, use the minimum payment you used to make to reward your efforts.
Get cash back
If nothing else, finding ways to get cash back can give you some extra momentum. Did you love all the gifts that you received? If not, consider returning them if you can to get cash to fund your pay-off.
Even if you can’t get cash back, many stores will issue gift cards. If your gifts came from stores that carry a multitude of different types of items, this might free up your budget to put down cash if you can pay for groceries or household items with the gift card.
You can also check on reward points you’ve accumulated and apply them towards items in the budget that will benefit your paying off debt. You might be surprised how getting rewards from online retailers through your credit card will save you in household expenses.
You can also go the old-fashioned route and put things up for sale. It’s likely that others are looking for things they didn’t receive during the holidays, and this can give you some immediate cash.
It isn’t necessary to panic when January 1st rolls around. With some planning for the future, and a creative attitude now, you can recover from your holiday indulgences in no time.