Post-Holiday Budget Rescue Ideas
By Shannon M. Medisky
Almost everyone’s done it from time to time, overspent and over-splurged during the holidays. Whether it was a great new outfit to wear to all the holiday get-togethers, a party you hosted yourself or maybe just purchasing one too many gifts in an effort to be generous, the holidays can paint things other than holly berries and giftwrap red. It can leave your budget in the red too! Now that they’re over, give yourself a gift and your budget a break with these easy ideas to help put your budget back in the green:
Plan around the pantry. This is no time to fill it! Unless you live in an area of the country where nature may leave you stranded due to bad weather, this is no time to worry about stocking your pantry. Instead, strive to plan an entire week (or more) of meals using only the food you currently have. If you must purchase additional groceries, set a very strict and small budget to do so and stick to it. Slashing your grocery costs for a week or more, generally speaking, is the single most effective way to find extra funds fast to put elsewhere. If you have to play “cash catch-up,” do so by slowing down the trickle of cash out! (Pssst! And while we’re on the topic, do everything in your power to avoid taking out a payday loan. Sure, they may very well seem like the ideal short-term solution, but that’s just it. They’re not only expensive, they’re short term. You’re much better off going to extreme measures yourself for a short period of time rather than paying someone else even more money to just “float” you financially for a few weeks or so.)
Take advantage of much more lenient return policies. Maybe you received a gift that doesn’t work, is damaged or isn’t just quite right for whatever reason or perhaps you have an item or two you’ve been meaning to return but just haven’t yet, now’s the time to jump on it! Yeah, yeah, yeah, the lines are long and it does admittedly take time to drive on out to the store, but never is it easier to make a return. So turn whatever it is into a bit of extra pocket cash and fast! Even if you have to accept store credit or a gift card, it’s certainly more usable than whatever it is you can’t use to begin with.
Got kiddos? Tuck away a few of the less “stellar” items they received as gifts. I’m certainly not advocating taking away a kid’s toys! But so many kids are fortunate enough to receive so many wonderful gifts, that a handful of them seem to get pushed to the side and not given their fair due or time in the spotlight! Remedy this and help your budget, strategically pick up a few of these items when they’re not watching and tuck them away to pull out when they’re bored or hankering—or downright pestering you—for something new! And—Aha!—the next time you’re at the store and they’re asking for a new toy or a treat, you can strongly say, “No” but follow it up by reminding them of “that great…” they received during the holidays but never played with! Your budget is spared, you’re the hero and your little one happy.
Prioritize the funds that have to go out. If there’s just not enough funds to make all your ends meet, then own it. Call your creditors. Ask if it’s possible to divide payments over time, even if it’s only for a month or so. Ask if there’s an opportunity to change your due date, especially if it matches up better to when you get paid. Whatever you do, don’t let things go. Don’t bury your head in the sand or in the pile of bills.
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