How to recover from a holiday spending hangover
Are you suffering from a spending hangover? Have the holiday splurges, irresistible sales, and new gym membership come together to give you one big budget headache? Sadly, the cure for this hangover is not clear fluids and a few Advilâ€”that would be too easy. Cut yourself a little slack and check out this guide to get you back on track.
Make a list of your necessary spend
To help cut down on spend and increase your monthly cash flow, make a list of what you absolutely must spend money on each month to survive. As you try to determine whatâ€™s an actual necessity, ask yourself two questions:
- â€œWhat would happen if I donâ€™t buy or pay for this for one month?â€
- â€œWhat would happen if I donâ€™t buy or pay for this for the next three months?â€
If you can go three months or more without something it is likely not a necessity, and you should attempt to cut it from your budget for at least six months. Your monthly expenses list might look something like this:
Groceries (try to cut this expense by at least 10%)
Gas (challenge yourself to cut miles driven by at least 10%)
Monthly debt payments
You can also use free monthly budgeting apps such as Mint, Mvelopes, and GoodBudget.
Determine how much extra you can pay toward reducing your debt
Good job! By identifying your necessary expenses and committing to spend on only those items â€“ at least until you get your finances to a better state â€“ youâ€™ve just freed up $XX dollars in monthly cash flow. Now decide how much youâ€™re able to put toward paying down your bills, and how much should get tucked away into an emergency fund. How you decide to divide those newly freed-up budget dollars will depend on individual considerations like personal obligations, family situation and life stage, but progress is progress. Just remember that every little bit helps with getting your bills paid down and saving for a rainy day.
Commit to reducing your debt with a quick-win plan
While there are numerous debt reduction plans, to stay motivated and organized we will introduce the quick-win debt reduction plan: List all your bill balances, smallest to largest. Direct your extra payment amount entirely toward the smallest bill first while still making the required minimum payments on the rest. Itâ€™ll allow you to make real progress quicklyâ€¦and who doesnâ€™t like checking off items on a list like that?
You have a total of $2,765 in debt you would like to eliminate between a $615 bill from a fancy retailer, a $950 bill from a home improvement store, and a $1,200 medical expense bill. Because you have just reduced your monthly spend by $250, you have decided to invest $125 per month to paying down your debt and the other $125 you will save in an emergency fund.
This method focuses on the smallest bill first so you will use the $125 and the minimum payment to start whacking away at the retailer bill. Within 4 months you have been able to pay that bill down to zero therefore freeing up more cash flow to put towards your next bill, the neighborhood home improvement store. With this plan, you have been able to clear your debt within 13 months all while saving $1,625.
Four easy ways to save more and earn more
- Did you know that all the major TV networks let you watch full episodes for free on their sites? Take a look at CBS.com, ABC.go.com, NBC.com, FOX.com, and even AMC.com. You can also search for free movie websites.
- If you havenâ€™t already done so, consider giving up your land phone line. Do you really need it when you have your trusty cell phone, and thatâ€™s the number everyone calls anyway? Be sure to let your friends and family know, as well as any credit card companies, utilities, insurance providers, etc. so they can update their records for you.
- This one wonâ€™t just save you money; it can actually make you money.You just need to invest a little time and effort, and channel your inner Elsa to let it go. Itâ€™ll also go a long way toward closet organization and give you a head start on spring-cleaning.
Look at everything in your home with a fresh, objective pair of eyes. What donâ€™t you use or wear regularlyâ€”on a weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis? These items could include technology, dÃ©cor, clothes, baby/kid items, furniture, small appliances, etc. If you havenâ€™t used something in over a year, and/or it no longer brings you joy, and doesnâ€™t have family significance, itâ€™s time to take it into your local consignment store or list it on a classified advertisement site like Craigslist.com.You can also try an auction site like eBay or local garage sale pages on Facebook. A little extra effort like researching which consignment store gets the most business and taking multiple clear, quality pictures along with writing detailed descriptions of what you want to sell on a listing site will help you get the best price for your stuff. When it comes to clothing consignment, remember that you have to plan aheadâ€”they typically only take clothes for the upcoming, sometimes current season. There are also apps such as Thred-Up and Tradesy designed for you to easily sell your gently used and still in fashion clothes. Here is a more comprehensive list of the most popular consignment apps.
- If what youâ€™re parting with isnâ€™t in decent enough condition to sell, then give to a local charity. Youâ€™ll likely have more than just one thing that falls in this category. Be sure to get a receipt of your donation, attach it to a picture and list of the item(s), and youâ€™ve got yourself a tax deduction against next yearâ€™s income.
Take the cash you earn and continue to build up your emergency fund, or at this point you could start a fund for next holiday season so you donâ€™t find yourself searching for these tips again next year.
Find a debt consolidation partner
Even with your best efforts you still may find yourself unable to handle the bills coming in. It might be time to ask for help, find a reputable debt consolidation partner, and consider an installment loan like one from LendingPoint. For those with a less than perfect credit score, LendingPoint makes fair credit fair again. We offer affordable personal loans at fair rates and fair terms to people who are on their way to growing stronger financially. Consolidating your debt with an installment loan can be a sensible alternative to struggling with credit card and other bill payments. It allows you to plan for just one bill with a consistentmonthly payment amount instead of multiple payments that often vary, and only meet the minimum due. Getting into a minimum payment due cycle can mean no end in sight to fluctuating debt if you continue to use those credit cards. LendingPointâ€™s loans come with rates that are often the same or less than credit card interest rates and they allow you to choose the repayment terms that best fit your needs.