So the holidays are over and you take a peek into your bank account. And what is staring back at you…is a complete disaster. The holidays can take a serious toll on anyone and their finances. But it doesn’t have to continue to be that way! Here are 11 ways to get your finances on track after the holidays.
This post was written by our amazing staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.
1) Stop Feeling Guilty
So first, before we even delve into the tangible steps you can take to get your finances on track after the holidays, you have to stop feeling guilty.
We all know that Christmas comes around the same time each year. We all know the New Year is filled with new beginnings. You know that you can’t take back all of the gifts, serve cheaper food, or tell your family no for this year. This year has passed. So dust yourself off, stop harboring over the fact that you overspent, and vow to do better this upcoming year.
2) Set New Financial Goals
Now that you have time to think clearly and make better financial decisions, set some new goals.
- Do you want to build your emergency fund back up?
- Are there outstanding bills that you want to pay?
- Do you want to pay off the credit cards you used for Christmas?
Whatever you want to accomplish financially, write it down. This is the first step to get your finances on track after the holidays because you are seeing exactly what you want to accomplish.
3) Have A No-Spend Challenge
This is one of my favorite tips to help anyone get back on track financially! Having a no-spend challenge not only challenges you to decide what’s a need and what’s a want, but it also keeps impulse spending, overspending, and guilt spending at a minimum.
You can make a no-spend challenge last as long as you want, but I would recommend at least one month. So, if you’re starting right during the new year, vow to not spend any unnecessary money in January. That means that anything that isn’t bills or necessities like groceries or gas gets put on the back-burner until the challenge is over.
I’ve completed quite a few no-spend challenges over the years, and each time, I’m able to save hundreds of dollars, and I don’t even consider myself a spender!
4) Replenish Your Emergency Fund
If you dipped into your emergency fund to pay for gifts or festivities, it’s time to make it a priority to build your emergency fund back up.
Getting your finances on track after the holidays is easier when you know you have something to fall back on. While the average emergency fund is around $1,000, you can build yours up to whatever makes you comfortable.Since I’m self-employed, my emergency fund is around 2-3 months of living expenses.
Whatever yours may be, start saving a little bit of money each paycheck or each pay period (if you’re self-employed), so you can replenish your fund quickly.
5) Pay Down or Pay Off Debt
If you used a credit card, or even a personal loan, during the holidays, it’s important to try to pay that off asap.
Debt isn’t fun, especially when it’s debt that could have been avoided.
If you have a high-interest credit card or loan, see if you can transfer what you owe to another credit card with a 0% interest rate. That way, your payments are going towards interest, and you can pay the amount off as quick as possible. Then, cut up your credit card or close the account.
While using credit cards isn’t bad, many people don’t know how to use them correctly. To save yourself the hassle, just don’t keep them in the house.
6) Eat From Your Pantry
Like the no-spend month, eating from your pantry can be a challenge.
If you use what you have in the home, and aren’t spending money frivolously on eating out and buying a bunch of groceries you don’t need (or will use), you can save yourself quite a bit of money.
Start with the holiday leftovers, and then move on to what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Go on Pinterest for recipe ideas, or simply Google what you have on hand and make recipes from those items.
For example, I’ve made breadcrumb cakes just by mixing some breadcrumbs, eggs, and parmesan together, made them into patties, and panfrying. Then, I serve them with some broccoli and homemade mashed potatoes.
These are ingredients that I typically have in the house, but that will go to waste if I’m not making good use of them. It’s a cheap, easy meal, and my family loves it! And the best part? I don’t have to go grocery shopping to make it.
Eating what you already have will keep your grocery spending in check, and give you a little more wiggle in your cash flow to either save or pay off debt with. Grocery spending is one of the easiest ways to cut your budget and get your finances on track after the holidays.
7) Use Cash Only
Going back to not using credit cards, try not to use your debit card either.
Did you know that as consumers, we are more inclined to spend our money when we’re using plastic over cash? The spending doesn’t hurt as much, because we don’t even see it leaving our wallets!
So, to make sure you aren’t mindlessly swiping your credit or debit card, vow to carry only cash around. And don’t worry, there are many ways to make cash spending safe and easy.
8) Earn Some Extra Money
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just reduce your spending after the holidays. Sometimes, you need to increase your income as well.
While many temporary part-time jobs will have disappeared now that the holidays are over, you can still earn money through side hustles. You can also try to earn money by selling items around your home, which brings me to my next point.
9) Sell Gifts
I know, I know, this sounds crazy. However, if you have a big family, or if you exchange gifts with co-workers and friends too, you may have quite a few gifts laying around that you don’t want or will never use.
Instead of letting them sit in your home and collect dust (and create clutter), you can try to sell those items instead. You can even do the same thing with gift cards that you don’t want!
As an example, my husband and I received a crock pot one year. While we were thankful, we already had a crock pot in our home and loved it. When we tried to return it to the person who gifted it to use, because we didn’t want two crock pots, we were told that we could do whatever we wanted with it. So, instead of just throwing it in the trash, we put it on the Facebook marketplace and made $20 from it! That money then went straight into our savings account.
If you are hesitant to sell gifts that you’ve received, feel free to ask those who gave them to you what they would like you to do. If they give you their blessing to part ways with the item in exhange for money, go for it and don’t feel guilty about it!
10) Take Advantage of Gift Cards
For those gift cards you do love and enjoy, take advantage of them early! You’d be surprised to know how many people forget that they have gift cards and never use them. While gift cards don’t expire, you don’t want unused money laying around either!
If you get grocery or gas gift cards, use those first before spending your own money. If you get a card like a Starbucks gift card, use that when you really need to treat yourself. You won’t be spending your own money, so you can enjoy your treats and spending guilt free!
Just remember to not go overboard. The longer you make it last, the less you pay in the long run.
11) Set A Budget For Next Christmas
Now that you’ve gotten your finances on track after the holidays this year, it’s time to plan for next year so this never happens again! Set a budget for Christmas, including gifts, festivities, decor, and more. Then, every month, save some money towards your fund. The holidays aren’t a surprise. They happen every year at the same time. You don’t have to go off track with your finances if you plan for them.
Will You Get Your Finances On Track After the Holiday?
While the holidays are supposed to be fun and festive, you shouldn’t have to stress about money to make them fun. Instead, these tips make it easier to get back on tracks, and make sure you stay on track.
The real question here is, will you actually use these tips to get your finances on track after the holiday? I sure hope so!!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a strategy consultant, product launch expert, and mastermind behind the www.theentrepremomer.com. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or crying over This Is Us, you'll find her teaching other mompreneurs how to scale their business without scaling their workload.