It’s that time of year: the holidays. While the end of the year is wonderful for spending time with family, enjoying parties with friends, and giving and receiving gifts, it’s not always so wonderful for your wallet.
While many of us expect and even plan for increased spending around the end of the year, getting back on track after the New Year starts can be a challenge. Follow the tips below to take control of your budget when January rolls around.
1. Create an Actual Spending Plan
So many of us associate negativity with budgeting; however, there’s no better way to plan on how you’ll use your hard-earned money. The best way to get started is to think of it as a spending plan rather than a budget.
Then, look over your finances and records to put together what you must spend money on – housing, utilities, food and other necessities. Factor in all sources of income – earned income, gifts and anything else. Then, look at what’s left. Think about how much you’d like to have available to spend on entertainment and other nonessentials and how much you’d like to save. By taking an hour to put together a spending plan, you’ll have a better view of where you stand and will be prepared to start the New Year on the right foot.
2. Focus on What You Already Have
Impulse shopping can strike even the most prudent savers, especially after the holiday season. Sales and promotions make it easy to buy things that you might not necessarily need.
To combat the impulse to spend, reflect on what you already have. Chances are, your needs are met. By counting your blessings and practicing positivity, you may be less likely to shop for things unless you really need them. When you do pass a sale or special offer, evaluate whether it’s something you really need, or just something you want. By changing the way you think, you can change the way you spend.
3. Plan to Eat In
When it’s cold and miserable outside and the winter misery starts to take hold, it can be easy to want to simplify life by ordering food in or eating out. Sometimes, it’s a great option. However, eating out is almost always more costly than eating in, and could lead to poor eating habits.
To help rein in your budget, make a biweekly meal plan. Check out the food you already have in stock and make a list of exactly what you’ll need to shop for. Meal plans typically focus on dinner, so be sure to organize your grocery list by items you’ll need for each meal. Don’t forget the snacks. It’s easy to veer off budget when you’re craving a specific snack.
Look for online coupons on sites like coupons.com to help in the savings department. When you go to the store, bring your list and your coupons; don’t buy anything that didn’t make the list. At first it might be difficult to avoid the impulse purchases, but over time it will become a habit.
4. Earn a Little Extra
There’s no better time than after the holiday rush to evaluate what you have and what you might not need. Why not turn the things you don’t need into savings?
Compile the items you received as gifts that may not be returnable, along with those that you’ve collected over time that you may not have a need for anymore. Take the time to put together an online–think Facebook–or real-life yard sale. Make your prices reasonable and be willing to negotiate. You may be surprised with what you can earn by getting rid of belongings that you might not need. By decluttering your life, you could pad your savings for the New Year.
5. Commit to Saving
During the rush of the holidays, it can be easy to depend on your credit cards. While using them results in no immediate loss of cash, credit cards can lead to debt if not carefully controlled. They could also put you at more risk than using cash; in fact, the U.S. rates second highest in the world for credit card fraud.
To avoid the negative effects of relying on credit cards, use the New Year to pay them off in full, rather than making monthly payments. Then, put them aside for a little while. You may find that it’s easier to save when you’re using cash for each purchase, instead of the out of sight, out of mind mentality that accompanies credit cards. By putting your credit cards away, you will be making a commitment to pay attention to your spending and to saving.
Getting back on budget for the New Year doesn’t have to be a challenge. Instead, follow the tips above to get started; you’ll be saving and seeing results in no time.
Which of those tips is your favorite? What other tips would YOU add?
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Blog friendships don’t originate every day. Which is why I’m so pleased to introduce to you Savannah Hemmings of Sincerely Savannah, the author of the post you read above. You see, Savannah recently contacted me, out of the blue, to begin a blog collaboration. (Which was so sweet!)
I can already tell we’re going to be a great duo, that we’ll contribute lots of good things to each other’s sites, and that you’l love her blog. (If you don’t believe me yet, check out my fave post of hers so far: Eight Holiday Date Night Ideas. >> A lot of them transcend the Holidays, which is great because my boyfriend is on vacay in another state until mid-Jan.)
Savannah’s not only a sweetheart, but also… well, just read for yourself:
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Interested in collaborating with me and/or featuring your original content on my blog? Contact me: Annie [at] theRantingLatina [dot] com and we’ll work it out.