How to Deal with Post Christmas Budgeting

Christmas Tree and stockings

After a financially indulgent December, we felt like the finish line to getting back in the black was so far away. I’m betting that my family and I weren’t the only ones to be in this position after the holidays. The first thing we set out to do was to get our spending under control and tackle our debt. And one month into the new year, we have found some easy ways to cut back on our expenses without feeling like we’re missing out. If you’re interested in creating your own post-Christmas budget, here are some tips that worked for us.

Take advantage of digital coupons and daily deals. It may sound old-fashioned, but factoring coupons into your weekly supermarket shopping habit can help you save hundreds of dollars each month on food and other household items. You don’t have to go “Extreme Couponing”, but just think of buying products when they’re on sale and then storing them for when you need them. And with coupons taking a digital turn, you could even scan the barcodes from your smartphone–no clipping or cutting required.

Clear out anything you’re not using. If you happened to purchase items for hosting all those holiday parties that you ended up not using, round up your receipts and take them back so that you can put that money toward your post-Christmas budget. Another way to find money in unexpected places is to search your home for belongings that you don’t use anymore. You can sell old clothing to secondhand stores, for example, or sell old CDs and DVDs on musicMagpie.

Create a strategic plan for paying down those credit cards. Did you rack up a hefty credit balance during the holidays while shopping for gifts? If so, try the “snowball” approach to getting rid of that debt. Make the minimum payment on all of your cards except for the one with the lowest balance. For this card, pay as much as you can afford to each month, until you’ve eliminated that balance altogether. Then start again with the card that has the next lowest balance. This will help you get rid of your credit cards faster than just paying the same amount on each of them every month.

Start a piggy bank for the one thing you really want. Just because you’re budgeting doesn’t mean that you should extract all fun from your life. If you’re still dreaming of a warm-weather vacation to escape the cold, or a really cool gadget that you didn’t get for Christmas, stay focused on that goal by forgoing small expenses like eating out or going to the movies. Instead of spending that cash, put what you would have spent in a piggy bank. And once you reach your goal, go get what you really want.

Find ways to have fun without spending money. But don’t just sit at home thinking of all the exciting things you could have done with the money. You can have just as much fun by renting a DVD and having an at-home movie night with infinitely cheaper snacks and popcorn. Or you can try out a new dinner recipe rather than going out to eat. There are a lot of ways to have fun with what you already have; it all depends on how resourceful you are.

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