Got a financial hangover from all your Christmas shopping? Yeah, join the club. Here's how to remedy.
- Step 1: Review your credit card bills. If you can't pay them in full, at least pay less interest: Start by calling your credit card company and requesting a better rate. If that doesn't work, find a company with a lower rate that will let you transfer your balance to them.
- Step 2: Now that you've reined in your superfluous spending, set up an automatic deposit for some of the money you're saving in a Christmas Club bank account. Do this from now on, and you'll never have to recover from Christmas spending again.
- FACT: The average American who charges holiday gifts to a credit card takes 6 months to pay them off.
- Step 3: Clean out your closets, cabinets, and other storage areas. The evidence piles of how much unnecessary stuff you accumulate can inspire future frugality.
- Step 4: Get friends involved in your austerity program. Meet them for a walk instead of cocktails or fancy coffee drinks; organize a potluck dinner instead of going to a restaurant. They probably need to recover from Christmas spending, too.
- Step 5: Remove the bait by staying out of any tempting stores and locking up your credit cards. Many people find they spend far less if they have to hand over cold hard cash.
- TIP: Don't store your address or credit card data online -- the hassle of filling those fields out may help thwart web purchases.
- Step 6: Initiate a spending freeze: Buy nothing but necessities during the month of January -- and beyond, if you can.