5 Ways to get your budget back on track after the holidays
The holidays are a costly time. Between fancy meals, visiting relatives and buying presents, it's easy to wind up spending more than you'd planned. So now that the holidays are behind you, it's time to get your budget back on track.
Shop only for what you really need
The holidays may be over, but stores are still pushing you to keep shopping for great deals. Although some excellent sales can be found at this time of year, no price is low enough when it comes to things you don't need. If there's something you can't be without and you have room in your budget to afford it, it's OK to seize the opportunity. But be extra careful with each purchase you make, and avoid buying anything unnecessarily.
Save in the kitchen
We love to eat, and that can mean we put a lot more money into feeding ourselves than is necessary. This is particularly true over the holidays, so to get your budget back on track, focus on minimizing your spending on meals. Use everything from coupons to flyers to save money at the grocery store, and avoid eating out as much as possible. It's also wise to plan out your meals and snacks for the week in advance so you'll be less prone to last-minute, pricey purchases when you're out and about.
Give your credit cards a rest
Have your credit cards been working overtime this past month? You aren't alone; many people rely on credit cards to make their holiday purchases. But if you don't take care of that buildup of debt, you'll quickly come to regret it. So now that the holidays are over, pay for as many things as possible with cash or a debit card. Cash can feel a little harder to part with, and you might be less inclined to spend. The longer you spend frivolously, the harder it can be to quit, so take action now before your budget gets too out of control.
Sell what you don't need
The holidays can leave you with plenty of new things — some of which you may not need. Or new items might replace older models that you are now free to get rid of. If you're able to return items you don't need, that's great. If not, you can find plenty of great online selling platforms, such as Kijiji and Craigslist, to off-load unnecessary items for reasonable prices. You'll declutter and make a little money in the process.
Start keeping track
The best thing you can do for your budget is to start keeping track of your spending. Programs such as the one offered by mint.com log all the action going on in your bank account. You can set budgets for all areas of your life and see where you're saving and where you might be overspending. It's a great way to hold yourself accountable to your purchases, so sign up for a program that works for you ASAP.