You said you wouldn’t do it, but it happened anyway: You overspent on party attire and social events. You went way overboard on gifts. You tossed your budget out the window in favor of good times and holiday cheer.
Don’t beat yourself up. It happens. And you surely wouldn’t be the first person to bemoan the toll the holidays took on your wallet. But now that they’re over, it’s time to get back on track. Here are a few easy ways to begin the process of recovering financially.
Review your Gift Collection
Just as you gave during the holidays, you also probably received. But before you stash your gifts in the back of your closet, take inventory and figure out which items you really do and don’t want. Go through the “don’t want” pile to see if there’s anything you can sell or exchange for things you’d normally spend money on.
For example, if your grandmother got you a sweater you can only describe as “hideous,” try returning it for store credit so the next time you need to replace a staple item, you won’t have to shell out the money.
You can also unload unwanted gift cards for cash online. There are numerous sites that allow you to sell or trade gift cards, and while you may not get full value, better to have some money in hand rather than a useless piece of plastic that takes up space in your wallet.
Cut Back on Nights Out
Nothing zaps your financial resources like nightlife and dining out, and while it’s normal to want to socialize and indulge, you’re probably ready for a break anyway now that it’s a new year. So rather than make big plans with your partner or friends, consider exploring the less exciting — but just as enjoyable — world of movie nights and potluck dinners. You’ll save money and give your body a chance to recuperate from all the holiday madness.
Reexamine Your Budget
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to reevaluate your budget — especially if you’re still paying off your credit card bills. With your holiday spending spree fresh in your mind, take the time to review your finances so that you can better prepare for next season. You may find that to avoid racking up debt, you’ll need to set aside extra money each month for your holiday gift fund.
The sooner you realize this and start taking steps to create that financial buffer, the better off you’ll be. Plus, with that nagging credit card balance hanging over your head, you’ll be more motivated to get creative in terms of cutting corners.
Remember, recovering financially from the holidays doesn’t have to be painful. Just take the opportunity to make some smart short-term decisions, and before you know it, you’ll be back on track and in a better position to go all out next year.