“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”….
Those of us at a ‘certain age’ will remember that tag line from TV Commercials for Alka-Seltzer. Those of us Simpsons fans, will recognize it from a Homer’s Yearbook picture. Whatever your frame of reference, you know it’s all about having overdone it. For Homer, it was probably donuts. For many people, it was the gifts and food and “just one more present” that may have blown the budget.
I know around this time of year for me, I need to stay away from the various ‘Sales’ emails I receive because it’s just too darn easy to buy something. As with most things financial, you’ve got to have the discipline to ‘Just say No’. Or ‘No more’.
So it’s all over but the bills. Unless you paid cash (good for you) in which case you can skip the rest of the post. And so now what do you do? If you didn’t have a Christmas Budget you’re stuck with trying to figure out a few things. Here’s a great chance for you to apply some things you (hopefully) have done before.
Mini-Snowball: Similar in plan to a regular ‘Snowball’, this one focuses on the Christmas dollars spent. One key note: Overspending for the Holidays does NOT qualify for an Emergency! You should NOT utilize the Emergency Fund to pay for your Holiday bills. It’s not an Emergency, but something that does need to be resolved as quickly as possible.
Take your payments/bills, and knock them out in order by amount owed. If you used multiple credit cards, store accounts, etc., take the lowest amount due and pay it off first. Once that’s done, pay off the next one. Repeat until you’re done. Where does this money come from?
Maybe you sell some items you don’t need/want. For short term gains, that’s a decent solution. Getting an extra job is a possibility, however, at this time of year, that’s a tough one and hopefully, you don’t need an extra job to pay for your Holiday bills! If that’s the case, there’s some deeper problems to resolve.
0% card: I’m not as radical as some financial folks in their complete disdain for Credit Cards. I use them, and I think I use them well. Gone are the days of “Put it on the card and we’ll figure it out later”. Today, we use our Card (singular) for daily purchases and pay off the balance every week. We get points that we cash in for gift cards and use those as needed. Side note: We’re saving up for a trip to Ireland and plan on using our Visa Gift Cards from our points to help pay for it
This time of year, you’ll see some card companies send out their 0% rate offers. Fortunately, we’re not in a position that we’ll need them this year, since we made a budget and stuck to it. However, if you can’t believe you ate the whole thing these might be an option for you. In the past, my USAA card has offered 0% rate and no-cost transfer fees. This is where you definitely need to read the fine print. Most companies will charge you a fee to transfer the amount to their card. In some cases, this might not make much sense as you won’t wind up saving as much if you take into account the transfer fees from the total amount transferred. AND, if you transfer from multiple cards to a single card, you pay multiple transfer fees.
Take a few minutes and do the math!
So once that’s done, what’s next? Use your totals for this year and set up your budget for next year. If you’re not sure of what each person received, use this spreadsheet as a template for next year. This is what we use each year to keep ourselves on track.
So tell us, do you have a Hangover from the Holidaze? Were you ‘Naughty’ or ‘Nice’ on your spending?