What You Can Do Now
- If you find that you cannot avoid using a credit card this month (and who can), try making extra, smaller payments on your card. For example, if you put $200 on your credit card, try increasing your payment this month by about half that. You won’t feel it as hard when your next bill comes in.
- Schedule multiple payments on your credit card bill. For example, instead of paying $100 upfront this month, pay $50 on the 1st and $50 on the 15th. It will give you time to plan.
- Return stuff. It’s really easy to carried away in the store (so many things!). Once you get home, take a step back and evaluate your receipt. Seeing it in black and white makes that back-scratcher seem not so necessary.
- Stop buying for yourself. You know you do. The holiday season is not the time. Make a specific list for others if there are things you want. If no one is getting you gifts, then you may have to just go without for the next few months and be ok with it.
- Avoid post-holiday sales. You don’t need that stuff. You really don’t. You just went on a spending binge and should use January to recuperate, not increase your debt.
- It’s no fun, but if you get cash as a gift, use it to pay debt immediately.
What You Can Do Next Year:
- Put some money away each month to cover holiday spending. Open a second savings account and automatically put away $20 per month or more. You won’t miss it at all after a few months. By the end of the year, you’ll have a few extra hundred dollars to soften the blow.
- Create a budget. No one likes to see how much money they can’t spend, but you need to know. You can download a holiday budget spreadsheet online. Outline your gift giving needs and allot a budget to each. You also have to consider how holiday spending affects your regular budget–HBO might have to take a hiatus for a few months.