It’s the new year! You’re stoked to get it started by making and forging ahead on this year’s financial resolutions.
Then you get hit with the mother of all December credit card bills.
Your holiday spending has caught up with you.
Mesmerized by the twinkle of Christmas lights and humming along to the peppy tunes piped over department store speakers, you liberally swiped your plastic. You splurged on shiny gifts for family, friends, pets, service providers, coworkers, acquaintances, and maybe even yourself.
Now Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and the whole gang are sending you post-holiday greetings in the form of hefty credit card bills.
Don’t give up on your financial resolutions right out of the gate. What you need are some quick tips to regain control of your finances and get back on track toward making this year your best money year yet.
If your holiday spending bill wound up being overwhelming, it’s too late to change the past. But you can make the best of the situation with three simple steps:
1. Don’t start the year with mounting debt.
It’s tempting to shove your December credit card bills in a drawer or pay just the minimum balance. But you’re setting yourself up for money woes if you pull an ostrich maneuver.
Make paying off your credit card debt a priority.
You’ll avoid (or minimize) late fees and interest charges. That will save you money in the long run.
If you’re trying to reach a savings goal this year, it doesn’t make mathematical sense to push more money than you absolutely need into a savings account while racking up credit card debt. Your savings account is giving you maybe 1% or 1.5% interest while your credit card company could be charging you 15% to 20% interest!
Prioritize your debt repayment so that you can get to the business of saving quickly!
2. Rework your plan if necessary.
Whether you were hoping to sock away an extra $20, $200, or $2000 each month this year, you might find yourself unable to make that commitment now.
Don’t drop your savings goal entirely. Come up with a credit card repayment plan — whether it’s paying a massive bill in January or spreading it out over a few months — and adjust your savings goal accordingly.
Crunch the numbers, and see what you can still reasonably put away in savings, investments, retirement, or whatever this year.
Then commit to your new goal!
3. Embrace your hard-earned wisdom.
Getting your December credit card bill can be a sobering experience. Working through the financial aftermath is no fun either.
So take the opportunity to make a new resolution for this year.
Before December rolls around again and the twinkly Christmas lights blind you to big price tags, sit down and sketch out a gift budget for not only the holidays but for the whole year.
Figure out what you want to and can spend on this year’s far-off holidays, then divvy up that amount to set an individual budget for each person.
When Christmas rolls around in 11 months, you’ll be ready to spend without regret!
What’s your plan to make the most of your holiday spending hangover?