The merriment of the holidays has passed and if you found that your wallet was hit harder than your diet (even with all that eggnog), read on for some ways to make a new financial start this year:
Brew a fresh Budget: If your festivities got the better of your budget then it’s time to make up a new one. Factor in any extra winter expenses such as increased heating costs, special vehicle maintenance and seasonal clothing. Adjust debt repayment totals or add in any new ones necessary. (Be really on the ball and budget to start saving for next year’s festivities too!)
Avoid Temptation: Even after the holidays, the lure of feel-good purchasing is everywhere, from never-ending Boxing Day sales to winter clear-out specials. If it’s not a necessity or in your new and improved budget then leave it be! If you know that making impulse purchases is a weak spot for you then be sure to leave your credit cards at home or bypass the mall altogether.
Stop Juggling Cards: While using several different credit cards seems like an ideal way to keep balances low (a little here, a little there) and accumulate reward points, it’s unfortunately just another way to get yourself into hot water. Keeping track of what was charged to which card, when each payment is due AND which is the lowest interest rate isn’t easy. And when you’re juggling credit cards there is a tendency to rob Peter to pay Paul. Sit down and sort out which can be paid and cancel what you can. When it comes to credit cards, less is more!
Set Goals: We’re not just referring to hitting the gym harder — set some solid, attainable financial goals. Start with some short term (such as paying off your $1,000 credit card) then add medium term (like saving $15,000 towards a down payment within four years) and also something long term (retirement anyone?). If in the past you’ve spent a lot of time beating yourself up for splurging on an extra lunch out or fancy latte then being able to congratulate yourself on meeting your financial goals is especially important. The more visible progress you make the better you’ll feel about your finances and the more you’ll want to continue.
Make a Clean Sweep: If your budget is as stretched as it can get, if you use credit for everyday living expenses like groceries, and if your minimum credit card payments aren’t keeping up to the interest, it’s time to call in the cavalry (by cavalry we mean a licensed trustee). Starting fresh financially, whether it be with a consumer proposal or bankruptcy makes sense for a lot of people; you’re able to live comfortably, but not with the debt (and interest) constantly weighing you AND your budget down. Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might just need a break — and that’s what we’re here for!
As nice as it would be, the party can’t last forever. Although the new year may start off a little shaky, with the right efforts you’ll be on a solid new financial track. Kind of like reinstating that workout regimen, the first few steps are the hardest but the sense of accomplishment and peace of mind are worth it in the end!