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The National Retail Federation estimates that the average American spent nearly $1,050 on holiday gifts, goodies, and travel in 2019.
And according to TD Bank’s Merry Money Holiday Spending Survey, 68% of American’s who blow their holiday spending budget, do so by as much $300.
So as not to start 2020 off on the wrong financial foot, there are a few steps we can all take to financially recover from the holiday season.
You can’t work to pay off debts until you know how much you have to spend each month. Take a look at your budget for the year including monthly expenditures, and review any short and long-term goals.
It’s important to know just how much debt you’ve accrued from the holidays so you can manage paying it off. You also want to avoid any surprises by knowing what bills are coming. If you paid for anything with cash, get all your receipts together and add them up. Then hop onto your credit card’s website app to get your current balance. Add all that up so you know the exact damage from the holidays and have a full picture of what you owe.
One credit card may have a lower balance, but it also may have a lower interest rate. Focus on paying off the credit cards with the highest interest first as it’s going to cost you the most in the long-run.
Another option? See if you qualify for a balance transfer, which will allow you to consolidate your debt onto a single credit card, and, ideally, one with a more favorable rate than what you're currently working with.
Want more money to pay off debt? Don’t spend it. Cut back on things like eating out, buying coffee on the way to work, and outings to the movies or the mall.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, just find inexpensive or free options. Make your coffee at home and take it to work. Pre-cook lunches on Sunday then divide it up into lunches for the week. Drop one of those Roku or Apple TV apps for a couple of months, or go with Hulu with commercials instead of without.
Along with helping you cut down your holiday debt faster, you’ll often find that those things you thought you couldn’t live without are a lot less vital to your happiness than you realized.
This is a great time to start clipping coupons. It may not seem like a big deal saving $0.50 on a can of soup or $1 off a couple of boxes of cereal, but those savings can add up and help pay off that debt a lot faster.
Check your Sunday newspaper, look through those weekly mailers, and sign up for saving programs through your grocery store. They often send out coupons for things you buy most often.
For most of us, it’s going to take a little while to get all of the holiday debts paid off. You can help them along by utilizing any end-of-the-year bonuses or tax refunds. Don’t look at these things as free money to spend – rather, use them to pay down debt and boost your credit score to help meet your goals.
A good way to cut down debt is to utilize returns. The best things to take back are those impulse gifts we bought for ourselves. Other gifts you plan to return can go toward paying down debt, or you can use the cash or store credit toward day-to-day purchases like food, gas, or other needs.
Last, but honestly one of the best ones, is to start planning for the 2020 holiday season now. Once last year’s debts are paid off, keep your new spending habits up and start putting money aside.
Calculate how much you spent on the holidays in 2019 and try to get as close to that amount before November. Whether that’s a jar in the closet you store money in or a separate account, planning ahead will make the holidays that much less stressful the next time around.
We can help you prep for the 2020 holiday season with our Christmas Club Account.
There are three plans to choose from: $1,000, $500, and $250. Each week or month you make a deposit into the account, then in November, you get a check in the mail with all the money you’ve saved plus interest.
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