For many, the year's winter holidays are filled with glad tidings, good cheer and time spent with family and friends. It can also be a time of overspending. Last year, online shopping alone accounted for $46.5 billion in sales for the months of November and December, an increase of over 10 percent compared to 2012, according to comScore. While the holidays and their festivities may come and go, the bills tend to stick around. In fact, the third Monday in January is known as "Blue Monday," due to the onslaught of holiday bills and increasingly cold weather in much of the country. Did you get swept up in the spirit of the season and spend more than you planned (or should have)? Avoid a holiday spending hangover by following these quick tips to help get your finances back into shape:
Create a budget for repayment.
Avoid taking on additional debt so you can pay back those holiday bills. The start of the year is a perfect time to revisit your budget and finances. With an up-to-date budget at your disposal, you'll get a better sense of what you owe and can develop saving strategies for the new year. Not sure where to begin? Navy Federal's Managing Your Money section can help.
Don't ignore your bills.
While ignorance may be bliss with some things, it isn't the case with credit card bills. Keeping track of how much you owe can be a vital part of effective budgeting and planning. Open bills the day they arrive, so you can plan payments throughout the month rather than all at once if you need to.
Prioritize your payments.
Be sure you're reading the fine print and understanding the terms of your bills and loans. Make paying off those that have higher interest rates your top priority, without neglecting your other bills. If you're juggling many debts, read these tips to help you get a better sense of your options.
Got cash back?
If you belong to a loyalty program or have a credit card that offers cash back, put those perks to use! Some card companies even allow you to apply points directly to your bill.
Say "no" to new deals.
While they may be tempting, avoid retailers' popular January sales. The prices may be right, but digging yourself deeper into debt isn't.
Consider a balance transfer.
If you've piled up a lot of charges on a high-interest credit card, you'll find that many credit card companies will offer special rates on Balance Transfers early in the year, with fixed Annual Percentage Rates that are significantly lower for up to a year to help you pay off your debt. Whether or not this option is a good idea depends on your situation. Ideally, try to budget and plan so you're able to pay down your credit cards in full each month.
This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.