For many, winter holidays are filled with good tidings, cheer and time spent with family and friends. It can also be a time of overspending, though—with holiday spending hitting an all-time high of $998.32 billion last year, according to emarketer.com. So while the holidays and their festivities may come and go, the bills tend to stick around. The third Monday in January is even known as “Blue Monday,” due to the arrival of holiday bills and the increasingly cold weather.
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:
- Revisit and analyze your current financial state. The beginning of a new year is a great time to look over your finances and get a true sense of where you’re at. Go through all your credit cards bills and create a spreadsheet of total owed, minimum due and interest rates for each. Look at your checking account balance and see where you stand there as well. If you’re juggling multiple debts, the Overcoming Debt section on Navy Federal’s MakingCents website includes some good tips to help you get a better sense of your options.
- Come up with a repayment process and prioritize payments. Once you know what the interest rates are for your credit cards, prioritize paying off highest-rate cards first while paying the minimum due on the others. If it’s an option, consider opening a new card that offers an introductory rate or one with a lower interest rate, and transfer the balances from the higher-rate cards to the lower-rate card. You can also check with your current financial institution for special low-rate balance transfer offers and debt consolidation plans.
- Create a budget. As you refine your repayment process, keep in mind that your credit cards aren’t your only responsibilities. Create a new budget that takes all your spending into account to ensure you keep up with your regular expenses, such as utilities, along with paying your credit card bills. Not sure where to begin? Navy Federal’s Budgeting Tips section can help.
- Don’t ignore your bills. While ignorance may be bliss with some things, that isn’t the case with credit card bills. As you’re paying down your debt, keep track of outstanding balances so you can adjust your budget and planning as needed. Open bills when they arrive to make sure you have the due date and the latest information to use in your planning.
The More You Know
Keeping your finances in good standing can be challenging, especially after the holidays. But a smart plan for the new year can help put you on track for the months ahead and be prepared for the next holiday season. Navy Federal can help. Visit our Improving Personal Finances page to learn tips, tricks and other valuable information.