Holiday Spending Hangover
1. Do double-time on your credit-card payments. Finance charges add up faster than you might think, and you may end up paying $50 for a pair of socks before you’re through paying off your cards. We know that the best solution is to pay off the balance of your cards when the statement comes this January, but for many folks that isn’t a viable option. Instead, try to curb enough expenses to double your payments each month, at least until your holiday expenses are covered.
2. Get an early start on your taxes. If you are one of the lucky few that actually receives a refund each year, do your taxes as soon as you receive all of your forms — from employers, investment companies, and banks. Use the refund to pay down debt, or, if you have a good handle on that already, use it to invest in next year’s holiday spending.
3. Get a jump on spring-cleaning. We know your dirty secret: those boxes and bags full of perfectly good stuff that you have tucked away for a rainy day. Take advantage of a snowy day, instead, and pull out the clothes, appliances, and household items that you haven’t used in a while, or don’t want anymore. You can auction ‘em off on eBay, or post on your local CraigsList, and then use this “free-money” to pay down this year’s holiday expenses — or save for next year’s.
4. Hit the sales. It might sound counterintuitive to go shopping after the holidays, but the only discounts deeper than those before the holidays are those directly after. Score some gifts for next year — plus wrapping paper, holiday cards, and ornaments — at 60-75% off. This time next year you’ll be glad you did! Remember: just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s cheap.
5. Take an entertainment time-out. If you’re like us, you probably saw enough holiday movies, concerts, and recitals to last until next year — not to mention the dinner and bar tabs. In order to raise some cash to pay off your cards, put a moratorium on going out to dinner and movies, at least through January. Take advantage of the downtime to enjoy all of the gifts you were given: curl up with a new book, or play outside in that cozy new jacket.
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