In the month of January, many people experience what we call the holiday spending hangover. The holidays have come and gone, but the bills and credit card debt are here to stay. A regular hangover eventually goes away, but a financial hangover often does not. You must be proactive to not only recover from this year’s holiday spending hangover, but to avoid one next year. If you were drunk on deals this holiday season, follow these tips to help undo the damage:
- Stop shopping. This may seem obvious, but it can be difficult especially if you’ve gotten yourself into the habit of spending your weekends shopping for that perfect holiday gift. Also, lots of stores tend to have post-holiday sales and markdowns in January. Even though you might find some great deals, don’t buy it unless you NEED it. There is no reason to go further into debt just because you got a great sale.
- Return unwanted gifts. If you received a gift that you do not like or will not use, return it. Most retailers offer extended return policies for items purchased during November and December, and if you have a gift receipt you should be able to get a store credit that you can use on something you need. My mother bought me a beautiful blazer this year; however, I did not need it so I took it back to TJ Maxx and used the credit to purchase snow boots that I will definitely use this winter. I had another return to Target and used the credit to buy groceries. During the holidays many of us fall victim to the self-gifting trap. Reassess what you bought for yourself and return any unnecessary items. Also, take back any unused supplies (gift wrap, tree lights, etc.) if you will not use them next year.
- Find extra income. Try increasing your income with a hobby you already enjoy. For example, if you play an instrument or a sport, offer to teach lessons to people in your community, or if you enjoy thrift shopping, sell some of your finds. Another tip is to declutter and sell any items you no longer use.
- Start budgeting for next year! If you start saving $20 each week now, you will have approximately $920 to spend on holiday shopping next year. Visit ACCC’s Holiday Budgeting Center for tips on saving and budgeting. If you plan and create a budget in advance, you will have time to save more, shop around for the best deals, prepare for bills in the new year, and most importantly remain organized and stress free.
Are you experiencing a holiday spending hangover? How do you plan to combat it?