recuperating from holiday “gift giving” debt..

With the holiday’s behind us, reality sets in. You’ve over spent-now what!?

I’m just going to get right into it. Let’s be honest for a minute….REALLLLY HONEST. The gifts that you bought your friends, relatives, co-workers, etc, was it to “impress” someone? Was it because if you bought a gift for them that you could ACTUALLY afford, you were afraid they would judge you? Did you want to continue the facade that you are “doing well” and could afford to buy that for them? If you answered yes, you were guilted into buying a gift..maybe not by them, but by the voice inside your head. I think it’s important to recognize that so that you can recognize it when it happens again. I love that we SAY it’s not about the gifts, it’s just about the “time we spend together”, it’s not about the gifts, “it’s the thought that counts”….and yet, our bank account tells us differently.

Ok, so now what? You’ve spent it, it’s gone..let’s more forward. What can you do to get back on track?

1. Assess the damage: gather up all of your receipts, credit card statements, etc. and get real with where you stand.

2. Cut back: I know this isn’t what you want to hear. But just like when you need to lose some holiday pounds (totallllly guilty), you  need to cut back in some area.  You’ll notice I use dieting as a comparison to getting financial fit.   It takes discipline and determination to do better, and to cut back when necessary. Some areas you can cut back on are: eating out, pizza delivery, gourmet coffees, prepackaged foods, new clothes, travel, car washes, movies, sporting events, you get the picture.

3. Create a list when you go shopping and then STICK to that list. Do you know that 60% of people’s spending are impulse buys and that the average person impulse buys around $100? Get smarter than the stores and stop grabbing that last minute stuff off the shelves while you’re standing in line to check out. You know you’ve done it!!! Pre-plan your trip, get in and get out!

4. Get off the mailing lists of your favorite stores. This is a hard pill to swallow…..but it’s all about temptation. I mentioned in a previous post that learning to be content with what you already have is a HUGE factor into helping you get out of debt. Imagine being content with what you have and then BAM your inbox has a sale for 75% off of <insert want> and you think “OMG, that’s a great deal, I can’t pass it up!” and before you know it, the card is out and you’re even further in debt. You didn’t really NEEED it, but it was a great deal.

5. Use those gift cards you got from over the holidays. We all get some form of a gift card and a large amount of people never redeem them. But be careful, hold on to them until you NEED something and then instead of buying them on credit, use your gift card. If it’s for a store you will never shop or a card you know you’ll never use, there are sites that you can exchange them such as Plastic Jungle.

6.Think ahead to next year and start with this year-create a holiday budget. Start stashing money away here and there so that when Christmas rolls around, you have CASH to pay for the gifts you want to buy. Then get real with what you can actually afford, don’t try to impress people with gifts you can’t afford,  and set a budget for each person…..because remember, it’s not about the gifts, it’s about “spending time with the people you love”.


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