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5 Ways to Get Your Finances in Shape After the Holidays

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According to the National Retail Federation1, the average American spent $936 during the holidays on gifts, décor, and travel. Unless you budget and set money aside for that throughout the year, you’re likely to put those holiday expenses on your credit card. With high interest rates that most cards carry, that can turn into paying a lot more on your debt over time.

Instead of letting the debt continue to rack up, take charge of your debt and start getting your finances in shape in 2017. Here are five ways you can get your finances back on track after a hectic holiday season:

  1. Go on a Plastic Diet
  2. If you relied heavily on your credit cards during the holidays, it may be a good idea to go on a plastic diet now that the season is over. Stick to cash only. Research2 has continually shown that people spend more when they use credit cards than when they use cash; the convenience makes it easier to overspend. Parting with tangible cash makes you think more about your purchases.

  3. Start a Budget
  4. Whether you use budgeting software, build a basic spreadsheet, or just use a simple journal, build a budget for yourself to account for all of your expenses, debt repayment, and extras. Check your credit card and bank statements for recurring payments or subscriptions you may have forgotten about. You may be surprised by how much money you spend on services you no longer use.

  5. Consider Consolidating Your Debt
  6. If you are facing high-interest credit card debt from the holidays and are motivated to pay it off, you may want to consider consolidating your debt with a personal loan. By consolidating your debt, you can get one easy payment and potentially reduce your interest rate. That means you can save money in interest on your debt over the length of your repayment period.

    While consolidating is not for everyone, if you’re focused on getting rid of your debt as soon as possible, it can be a great way to minimize interest payments and pay off the principal faster.

  7. Automate Payments
  8. To avoid missing payments, which can hurt your credit score and lead to added fees, automate payments for your debt and any recurring bills. If you maintain your budget and stay on track, you can schedule your payments without worrying about overdrawing your account.

  9. Plan for Next Year

To avoid feeling so much pressure at the holidays next year, start planning now. Take however much you spent on the holidays this year, divide that amount by 12, and set aside that amount each month in a separate savings account to use for gifts and other needs. If you follow that process, you can be prepared for the holidays and will not have to rely on credit cards to carry you through.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed after the holidays, you can start taking action to financially recover and get back on track. With some planning and research, you can get your finances in order and prepare for next year!

 

1 Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/m/623c1bc4-876c-3c54-99ea-550aed88cf2c/ss_the-average-american-will.html
2 Source: http://www.livescience.com/2849-study-credit-cards-spending.html

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