For many of us, the holiday season is the best time of the year. Whether you enjoy a “White Christmas” in Vermont or spend your Christmas morning sitting by the pool in Palm Springs, the season means the same thing for all of us: enjoying the company of friends and family, spending time with those we love, spoiling them with gifts, and celebrating with fine food and drink. But there’s one thing we often forget about – the post-holiday financial hangover. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Festivus, here are five ways to recover from your holiday spending blues.
1. Curb Your Spending Immediately
Perhaps most obvious, you should curtail any unnecessary spending in January and February (and perhaps even March, depending on how overboard you went in December) in order to recover a bit from your spending spree. Cut out trips to the movie theater, eat at home, use coupons at the grocery store, and abstain from immediately going out and buying all of the things that you wanted for Christmas and didn’t get!
2. Return Anything You Don’t Need
It’s worth noting up front that you won’t be able to get cash for many of your gifts, should you decide to return them. In many places, you’ll simply get store credit. However, if that store credit happens to be with a Big Box store, like Target or Wal-Mart, you could turn your unwanted Christmas gifts into practical purchases. Did you receive a bread maker with 12 pre-settings and a digital display for Christmas? And are you never, ever going to use that bread maker? Return it and use that money to buy groceries, clothing, or something else practical. Every little bit helps!
3. Create a Budget Plan
Steps one and two on this list are relatively low hanging fruit. They’re pretty simple, and anyone should be able to do them. If you want to get serious about fighting back against post-holiday debt, you should create a dedicated budget that outlines monthly expenses, one-time debts, and income. Look at the hard numbers and see if there’s any amount of wiggle room. Perhaps you can pay off the 80-inch television a month or two earlier than you had thought possible. Get a lay of the financial landscape and plan accordingly. Again, every little bit helps.
4. Pick Up a Side Job to Earn Extra Money
You may have noticed above that one of the key metrics of creating a budget plan is outlining income. Well, if money is tight, why not earn extra income? It’s easier than you might think. If you like arts and crafts, you can earn extra money by selling items online – sites like Etsy make it easy. You may also consider putting your professional skills to use as a freelancer. Ask around to see if any opportunities are available, and if you come up short, look for jobs on Freelancer.com or Fiverr. Finally, you may want to try your hand at entrepreneurship. Companies like Amway make it easy to start your own business and earn money in sales. You can get up and running in no time at all.
5. Use Apps to Track Your Spending
Part of any effective budget is keeping track of your spending. In government parlance, this is known as “outlays.” However, if you’re like most people, adding up your receipts one by one is probably as appealing as a dentist appointment, and we all know how slow bank accounts are to update. Consider using an app for tracking your spending instead – apps like Mint, by Intuit, make it easy to manage your money, all from your smartphone. Once you know how much you’re spending, you know how much there is left to spend.
Avoid the Post-Holiday Blues!
You don’t have to be stuck in the doldrums this winter. Yes, the holidays are over and for many of us, the temperatures are plummeting (and we probably spent more than we should have), but with a little bit of planning, a tightening of the wallet, and some due diligence, you can make it through this period and come out the other side unscathed and intact – mostly, anyway! Happy 2017!