Did you have too merry of a Christmas, and maybe spent too much this last holiday season?
It’s okay if you did, and you might be surprised to find that you are in common company.
It is common for the average shopper to spend more during the holiday gift giving season that what they might have budgeted. The National Retail Federation reports the average shopper spent over $700 on Christmas gifts in 2013, with 37% of those shoppers using their credit cards for those purchases.
If you were one of these shoppers, don’t fret. Here are a few things you can do to get caught up, and prepare better for next season’s holiday shopping spree.
Make An Honest Assessment
It won’t help to hide under your favorite fleece blanket and pretend that you didn’t spend what you spent. Sit down, take a few moments, and collect the balances on the credit cards you used.
If you used more than one credit card, consider creating a spreadsheet to track the purchase amounts. If you took money from savings accounts, notate that too. This is also a great time to do a full budget of all your expenses if you don’t have a budget set up already.
Knowing exactly what you spent, and what you took from savings is essential to the next step.
Make & Stick To A Repayment Plan
So now that you know what you owe, it’s time to put down your plan to pay it off. Looking at your budget, determine what you can really afford to spend each month on your credit card bill, or put back into savings. Not paying your self back is not an excuse just because you borrowed from your own savings account, because you will need that money at some point in your future.
If you are paying off a credit card balance, be sure to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. That will definitely save you some money. Carrying a high balance on a credit card can hurt your credit.
Plan For Next Year
Now that we are on our way to fixing our past discretion, it is a great idea to start proactively preparing for future holiday purchases.
It’s funny that Christmas happens the same day every year, yet many of us are still guilty of waiting until the last minute to make those purchases.
Well, make 2015 the year that you stop doing that.
Start a savings plan by simply opening a savings account exclusively for these discretionary expenses. Also, try to pick up certain gifts throughout the year as they go on sale.
If you know your mother loves special Santa keepsakes, be on the look out for those when they are probably the cheapest, which is any time other than December.
Holiday shopping is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for those you love. Don’t forget to include your self, and you finances in that appreciate.