The holidays are over and you’re happily kicking off 2013 with a bang. As you prepare to accomplish the financial goals you’ve set for yourself this year, you may be faced with one ugly reminder of your past money blunders: Credit card bills from your 2012 holiday spending.
Now is about the time those overstuffed statements will be headed your way. But before you hit delete or send the envelopes straight to shredder-ville, take comfort in knowing there are ways you can kick this habit to the curb once and for all!
Here are five easy ways to ensure you’ll never again ring in the New Year with the previous year’s spending hangover still looming over your head:
1. Make holiday spending a year-long priority.
Just as you make monthly retirement contributions and groceries a priority, set a monthly amount you can send to savings that will be earmarked for holiday spending. If you save a mere $50/month every month this year, you will have $600 in the bank when December arrives. Keep your budget in check and you won’t see a single credit card bill rolling in come January!
2. Shop for gifts throughout the year.
Who says holiday shopping must be done in November or December? What if you see a great gift for your loved one marked down on clearance in July? You could buy that gift now and save yourself the money (and hassle later in the year). The key to making this work is to keep track of what you’re spending (I like to do so in Excel) and, if necessary, make sure you place/hide the gift somewhere where you’ll remember it months from now.
3. Think outside the box (or bag).
Just like there are no rules for when you complete your shopping, there are also no rules for what you have to buy. Challenge yourself to think outside the box—literally. Consider gifts that cost time rather than money. Do you have a talent or hobby that a friend, co-worker or relative has admired? Make something for them, introduce them to the craft or consider “giving” a DIY tutorial. Remember, experiences are always remembered far longer than material objects!
4. Take advantage of seasonal work.
If lowering your budget or changing your gift-giving habits isn’t an option for you, no worries. Consider taking on a part-time, holiday job. With a bit of sacrifice with your schedule (and note—seasonal work is temporary work!), you can cash in on fantastic employee discounts while brining in extra money. If you’re interested in this option, start looking in September and October at the latest.
5. Don’t overlook the “extras.”
Inevitably, your gift list will expand when you least expect it to. Or perhaps you’ll need more wrapping paper at the last minute. Maybe it’s an unplanned gift exchange game you find out about the day before the party. Whatever these extras happen to be, make sure to budget and shop for them before you begin to feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Doing so will ensure you’ll make smart choices that fit your budget.
There are many ways to tackle holiday spending in a way that ensures the lack of a spending hangover the following year. These are just a few of the ideas I’ve used to tackle my own present-induced hangovers in the past; what has worked for you?