A new year should mean a new you. Unfortunately, money worries can take the excitement out of toasting the bells. The aftermath of the holiday season can leave you with financial worries and even get into debt.
Luckily, there are ways you can avoid debt if you’re smart with your money. But even if you find yourself in arrears, there are several things you can do to get back on your feet.
Avoid unnecessary spending
First and foremost, you need to tackle the problem head-on, and that means reducing unnecessary spending.
The time after the holidays is tough for most people. Not only are your finances drained by buying Christmas presents and eating and drinking more than usual, but you also have to take care of your usual monthly bills. Add to that the Boxing Day and January sales and you’re on your rocky road into debt land.
Luckily, there are small adjustments you can make to prevent yourself from falling into financial distress. First, unless you see something you like, try not to be tempted by the post-Christmas bargains Yes, really to need.
You can also make simple changes in your daily life, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll see a difference.
Consider walking or cycling to work instead of using public transport. Don’t worry if your job is too far away – just try to get off a few stops early. It may not seem like much, but it will add up over time.
Also, consider taking a packed lunch to work instead of shopping for groceries and you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ll save.
When you’re in debt, there are two repayment methods you can use to motivate yourself to get back on track.
With the debt snowball strategy, you start by paying off your smallest debts first while making minimal payments on the others. You then move on to the next smaller debt, and so on, until all of your debts are paid off in full. People often find this method easier and feel fulfilled by paying each debt in turn.
The debt avalanche method is the opposite, as you start by paying off your highest-interest debt first while making the minimum payments on the others. This strategy will likely save you money on interest but may be more difficult at first.
Go with the method that works for you as the end goal is always the same and becoming debt free.
Save and budget
If you want to better manage your finances, there are many budgeting apps that you can download for free.
Of course, it’s recommended that you budget any time of year, but never is it more important to budget your pennies than around the festive season.
Do you really need those cheap sprouts that just end up in the trash? Can you do without those blinking tree lights in your driveway?
It’s never too early to start budgeting for next Christmas. The earlier you start planning your year ahead, the better prepared you will be when unexpected life events arise.
Set a Christmas budget as early as possible in the year and come in December, your future self will thank you.
Manage your cards
For the new year, make a commitment to paying off all your credit card balances while you drive—and make sure you stick to it. This technique reduces the likelihood that you’ll buy things on credit that you can’t really afford. Also, once you default on a payment, your bill for the following month will be higher, and before you know it, you’ll be in debt.
Also, be sure to use your credit card for a cash advance. Interest rates on cash advances are often higher, which means they will cost you more in the long run.
You might also want to consider either limiting the number of credit cards you have, or at least managing them all through one service that allows you to make one easy monthly payment.
Worrying about paying bills and keeping track of your finances may seem daunting at first, but once you start making small changes, everything should fall into place. Ring in the new year with a healthy attitude towards saving and spending and you won’t look back. Now is the time to change old habits and ensure you start 2022 free of money worries and debt. To a new you!