All projections show that holiday spending has increased this year. While this may be good news for the economy and retailers, it can mean the opposite for your finances. Many Americans may come to the realization that they have overspent this year, and will wonder what they can do make the best out of their situation. So if you find yourself among the over spenders this year rely on these quick tips to help cure a holiday spending hangover.
The first step is to get a realistic picture of your finances and set a goal as to the amount of time by which you want to have all of the debts paid back. Divide the amount you owe by what you think you can afford to pay each month. This can give you a good idea of what it will take to repay the debts. If the result is that it will take longer to repay the debts than you would like or need, it may be good idea to take a look at your normal monthly budget to see what changes you can make to bring costs down or increase income, until the debt has been repaid.
Second, take a look at coupons and receipts. Many retailers will make price adjustments for coupons or honor prices of competitors, even after the sale has taken place. While this may not sound like a source of a large amount of savings, a 20% off coupon on a $200 gift would put $40 back in your pocket.
Next take inventory of the gifts you received and make a pile of the items you could live without. You may actually be able to turn that ugly sweater you’ll never wear into cash or a store gift card. It’s always a good idea to ask friends and family for gift receipts in case something is not your taste or doesn’t fit. Even if you don’t have a receipt, don’t be afraid to ask to return items. Often, retailers will give store credit instead of cash if you don’t have a receipt. If for some reason the store will not allow you to return an item, look for a consignment shop or second hand store to see if you can exchange the item for cash. Another option is to consider selling items on Ebay or in the classifieds. Once you have made your returns, use any store credit received to reduce your costs by using them to buy items you would normally budget for, and remember to apply cash refunds to your debts.
Last but not least, make a plan for next year! Start a liberal savings plan for next year’s holiday season. Take the total amount you plan to spend next year and divide it by eleven to get a realistic idea of what you will need to save for next year’s expenses. Meeting your savings goals will allow you to spend with a plan and make your purchases without the holiday spending hangover.