Christmas Bills Have Arrived – You’ve Overspent. Now What?

If you’re suffering from a post-holiday spending hangover, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. The emotions of the season, the aggressive sales techniques, all coupled with the overall excitement of the holidays can make it feel like we must make a choice between having fun and staying on budget.

Let yourself off the hook

Your shopping habits aren’t entirely your fault. I know, I know, hear me out! In our culture, holidays and celebrations are typically connected with some type of shopping. We’ve made it normal to associate getting good grades, a promotion at work, or life events such as a breakup with the need to buy things. Combine the cultural pull of shopping, along with the ‘perfect lives’ we see while scrolling through social media; it’s a recipe for disaster and overspending. Stop beating yourself up, it’s very common, but it can get better when you decide to take the initiative. Every day we wake up, we have the choice to change our money habits.

Pump the brakes

Falling into a pattern of overspending when you’ve already blown through your budget happens to the best of us (“what’s one more thing, I’ve already spent hundreds of dollars today?”). So, the smartest course of action is to stop all unnecessary spending while you get a handle on what you owe – don’t dig yourself in deeper.

Post-Christmas spending checklist
  1. Stop all non-essential spending (be ruthless with yourself about essential vs. non-essential).
  2. Create a practical budget that you can actually stick to (it doesn’t have to suck).
  3. Think about your financial priorities and values (ie. living debt-free, saving 30% of your income, retiring at age 55) because those goals are what you’ll work backward from.
  4. Create a list of spending habits and pay attention to your consumption patterns.
  5. Question all future purchases (yes, really.).
  6. Schedule weekly and monthly money check-ins with yourself to make sure that you’re staying fiscally healthy, responsible and on track.

Figuring out your money values will be like your North Star; your guiding light to financial freedom and responsibility. Keeping your long-term goals and dreams at the front of your mind makes it easier to say no to activities and purchases that may not fit into your budget. Check back next week for more practical tips on financial literacy!

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