The holidays always tend to set people back a pretty penny. Whether it’s gifts, travel, fancy meals, or just general socialization, the holidays can be an expensive time of year. While the time between Thanksgiving and New Year tends to fly by in the blink of an eye, it can leave lots of us with unexpected debt that we will be dealing with for months into the New Year.
Happily, with a new year come New Year’s Resolutions. Try committing yourself to one or two financial resolutions this year to pump up your financial health and recover from the holiday crunch. Here are a few that might tickle your financial fancy:
1) Save at least 10% of your income each month. You need savings, and you need a plan to develop your saving skills. Start out with as little as 1% if you have to, but make a point to get into the habit of saving.
2) Live within your means. This means actively avoiding getting into situations where you will incur unneccesary consumer debt. You may need to forgo some nights out, adjust your plans to socialize, or forget about shopping for the next 6 months, but it could free up the wad of cash that you need to pay the bills on time, or prevent you from using your credit card unneccesarily.
3) Pay down debt agressively. I suggest focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate first, the second highest interest rate second, and so on. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try consolidating debt into a single monthly payment with a fixed interest rate. This could cut down the number of bills you are dealing with significantly, and give you the structure you need to manage your money more effectively.
4) Clean out the closet. Organize a clothing swap with your friends or head to a local consignment shop and see if you can sell any of your old duds. If thos aren’t options, virtual consignment and eBay can be great ways to digitally clean out the closet and make a few extra dollars. You can even donate your old stuff to charity, and might be able to use the donation as a tax write off for the new year (check with an accountant on this one).
5) Get in shape. Studies show that people who take control over their physical health take control of their financial health too. I don’t know if it’s because of the endorphins, or the time spent at the gym, but it is just an extra reason to get fit, so get off the couch and get motivated. You’ll feel good when you look in the mirror and when you look at your bank statement too.