Between the home decor, delicious food, and endless gift shopping, the holidays can feel like one massive bill. Not to say a little indulgence is never worth it—celebrating is one of the season’s best facets. But getting back to a savings mindset can be a challenge.
To spring back into financial shape after the holidays, here are some budgeting pro tips.
#1 Assess the Damage
When facing a stressful financial period, you might be tempted to run away. Don’t do that. Taking stock of your outstanding payments is critical to budget keeping.
If you went full-out this holiday season, you need to review all financial transactions records. These could include statements from:
- Debit cards
- Bank credit cards
- Store credit cards
- ATM withdrawals
- Mobile payments
Once you collect all records, take note of your largest bills and tally up the damage. With this knowledge, you can make an informed plan to get back on track.
#2 Make a Payment Plan
For those with debt, just “winging it” is not a solid strategy. A payment plan will safely eliminate outstanding payments, while still fitting into your budget.
To get started, use a debt repayment calculator to figure out your monthly payment needs. Set a timeframe that is reasonable but aggressive (i.e., you probably won’t pay off $8000 in one month).
Next, rank your debt expenses from high to low. If possible, you should always target your highest debts, since this will save you money in the long run.
And don’t forget—most billing companies are open to payment plans. Keep yourself accountable by negotiating a strategy with your lenders.
#3 Limit Spending
The holidays encourage a “shop until you drop” spirit. But after December, you’ll need to drop that mentality to stay on budget.
Luckily, there are more ways to track expenses than ever before. To curb that online shopping habit, add one of these helpful tools to your budgeting arsenal:
- Paper budget planners – Sure, a paper planner is pretty old school. However, writing your goals down may help you organize your budgeting process. Grab a pen, pick up a visually appealing budget planner, and start off a new year in vintage fashion.
- Smartphone apps – Your phone isn’t just a distraction device. Budgeting apps can keep you on financial track, no matter the time or location. Link your bank accounts and start tracking expenses from your pocket.
- Bank features – Most banks offer some form of budgeting aid. Look for useful features like virtual piggy banks for savings or personal expense calculators.
- Prepaid credit cards – If a credit card feels like a golden ticket in your hands, then consider a prepaid option. This way, a spending cap can stop you from spiraling into credit debt.
#4 Increase Your Income
Cutting costs and tackling debt are important steps for reviving your finances. For some budget wiggle room, you could also bump up your income sources.
From investment strategies to side hustles, here are a few ways to make some extra cash:
- Return or resell gifts – Once the holiday cheer settles, there’s always a few gifts from Aunt Linda that could find a better home. Gather any presents bound for the storage closet, and either return or resell them online.
- Increase your investments – In times of taxed finances, investing can seem frivolous and secondary. But even a small mutual fund can produce hundreds of dollars in a few months. For an expert eye, hire the help of financial advisor platforms like Cetera. With knowledgeable consultants and a broker dealer network, they can create an investment portfolio that fits your budget.
- Pick up extra work – If your current salary isn’t cutting it, research side jobs that fit your schedule. With countless work-from-home options these days, you might just slip in a few crucial paid hours.
Gift Yourself a Budgeting Overhaul
Holiday presents show care and appreciation for all of your loved ones. To show some self-love, make yourself a gift that keeps on giving—a solid and personalized budget. With these tips, you’ll be back in top financial shape for the new year.