The holiday season is a wonderful time for relaxing and having fun with family and friends, but it can also add a lot of extra stress to an already tight budget. Perhaps you spent more than you originally planned, or maybe you aren’t even sure how much you paid for all the holiday gifts, decor, travel, and various other expenses. Either way, once the holidays are over, it’s important to take the time to get your finances back on track to help ensure that you start off the new year on the right foot. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Review your holiday spending
The first thing you should do is look back and review all your expenses from the season. It can be easy to lose track of everything in the moment, so sorting through each purchase can help you better understand what went wrong and what went right. It may be painful, but you’ll have a clearer picture in your mind of how much of a financial hit you took in the past few months, which you can then use to create a financial recovery game plan.
Adjust your budget
Changing your budget for even a short period of time can help you recover more quickly and get back on track financially. So, depending on what you discover in your review, you may need to cut back on your expenses for a week or even a month to help you pay off any debt you have from the holiday season. It’s important that you don’t feel like you must pay off your debt all at once. Instead, any temporary adjustments to your budget can help you pay more each month toward your credit card bill and help you better prepare for the year ahead. If you can spend less on things like grabbing coffee on your way to work or eating dinner out with friends, then you can dedicate more toward getting your finances in order.
Use extra cash wisely
While the holidays often bring more expenses, they also can bring in some surprise cash. Whether it’s gifts from relatives, bonuses at work, or upcoming tax returns, this influx of income can help you to get your finances sorted sooner rather than later. Instead of immediately spending any additional cash, think through your financial needs and see how you can allocate the funds strategically and wisely. Consider adding a significant portion to a high-yielding savings account, paying off your credit cards, or putting it into your emergency fund.
Create a plan for the next holiday season
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about next year. If you found the holidays to be extra challenging this year, start putting more money away each month so that you don’t end up in the same situation come next holiday season. Even just an extra twenty dollars a week in savings can add up to good sum you can use to cover 2024’s holiday expenses.
With just a few adjustments to your finances, you can help ensure that you start off the year as your best self.