The holiday season has finally come to an end. As you prepare to put away your Christmas decorations and take down that ornament filled evergreen tree consider the best ways to prepare for the new year. You’ve probably already written your New Year’s resolutions and put a plan in place to meet your goals, but now is the time to add one more objective to that list. January is a great time to review your finances and put a dent in any holiday debt that you may have incurred last December. Here are six tips to help you.
1. Return Anything You Don’t Need
As you sort through the Christmas gifts take a good hard look at the piles of stuff and decide which of it you really need. Did you hang that new scarf in the closet beside four or five you already own? Did you receive a shirt that just isn’t the right color or shape? Do your kids really need new toys from every single aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent? Did they receive gifts that will never be played with? Ask your family to take a good hard look at all those piles of gifts. Then ask them to put aside the clothes that don’t fit or the toys that will never be used. Gather up these items and return or exchange them. You won’t get cash back, but you will receive store credit to buy things you really do want or need.
2. Sell Whatever You Can’t Return
Now take an even harder look around your house and dig up anything and everything that you don’t need. Are any of the items valuable? If so, decide where you might be able to sell them. Depending on where you live it might be a little hard to host a garage sale in the middle of January. If that’s the case turn to listing sites like Craigslist or online auction sites like eBay. Did your aunt give you a gift card to a store where you never shop or a restaurant you don’t particularly like? Gift cards are really easy to sell and ship. Have your children outgrown some of their toys or do you need to clean off the shelves to make room for all of their new gifts? Search for consignment sales and stores in your area where you can make a quick buck.
3. Get a Side Gig
If you have the time and energy consider taking on an extra job. If a second job seems overwhelming consider other side gigs that will help you earn a little extra money for a few hours worth of work. If you like dogs consider asking the neighbors if they need a dog walker. Are there children in your neighborhood? If so, consider offering babysitting services. You can also offer to plow the neighbor’s driveway when it snows or assist an elderly neighbor with picking up her groceries, dragging her trashcans to the curb or picking up her mail.
4. Sell Your Crafts
Do you love to take pictures, paint or knit scarves? If you make homemade wares of any kind consider selling them on Etsy. Some women like to relax in front of the television with a pair of knitting needles and a warm cup of tea. If you knit blankets for new baby showers or hats for your friend’s kids why not open an Etsy store and make some money selling them online?
5. Cut Back On Your Expenses
Take a look at your monthly expenses and see where you might be able to save a little money. Can you cut cable in favor of Netflix? Can you call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate? Can you drink coffee at home rather than Starbucks and curb shopping for new clothes until summer? Cut back on these expenses and you can throw all of that extra money towards your debt repayments.
6. Use Your Tax Refund
If you have lingering credit card debt consider using your tax refund to pay it off. Once you have your w-2 form in hand you can begin filing your 2016 taxes. Fill out the tax forms yourself using automated software or go to H&R Block for an in-person consultation with a certified accountant. While you might be tempted to use that money to fund an exciting trip or purchase a closet full of clothes its much wiser to use it for debt elimination.
When it comes to debt you need to think creatively. What can you return, do, sell and cut back on? How quickly can you eliminate that debt?