Tips on getting your post-holiday finances back on track
Allison Miles/Victoria (TX) Advocate
1 January 2012
The presents beneath the tree might have all found homes, and clean-up might be under way from last night's New Year's Eve party, but those aren't the only holiday remnants left.
For many, the first of the year is a time to step back, look at the finances and recover from holiday spending.
On average, shoppers nationwide planned to spend $704.18 on holiday gifts, decor and more, according to the National Retail Federation.
And, while it isn't always easy to get back on track, there are people out there to help.
Here are some tips from those in the know.
Make the budget a family affair.
Plan it out together so everyone is on the same page and understands what you're working toward.
Set a specific goal.
Whether you hope to pay off Christmas debt, purchase a car or otherwise, have something in mind you're working for. Also, know exactly how much you hope to save. It helps get everyone involved and keep people motivated.
Know your timeframe.
Having a deadline in mind helps you understand how well you're doing along the way.
Some people set financial recovery plans they simply can't meet. If you plan to eliminate eating out completely, yet typically eat out often, you're unlikely to keep to that goal. Instead, scale back restaurant meals to once a week.
Avoid using credit if possible.
Use cash when you can. This way, you're less likely to find yourself going further into debt.
Monitor accounts closely.
Check bank statements often to make sure expenditures listed match what you believe you spent. Also check your credit report regularly to protect your identity.
Communicate with your debt collectors and creditors.
Ignoring their phone calls won't make the issues go away. Instead, speak with them and try to work something out. You might find they're a bit more flexible in helping you than you think.
It's easy to get discouraged when financial issues arise, but try not to let it get to you. Don't give up.
When in doubt, ask for help.
Debt counselors, banks and credit unions often have staff available and willing to discuss your financial plans. Don't hesitate to reach out.
Source: Melissa Goonan, market development representative for GreenPath Debt Solutions and Mark Schiffman, spokesman with ACA International
WANT TO DISCUSS FINANCES?
Looking to talk to someone about recovering from seasonal spending? GreenPath Debt Solutions might be able to help. For more information, visit greenpath.com or call 1-800-550-1961.