Whew. The holidays are finally over. All the cookies have been eaten, the gifts are opened, the visitors have gone home and the decorations are down. You’re totally exhausted from all of it. And now, all that’s left to do is open your credit card statement and see the damage. And… OUCH. You overdid it with holiday spending. Again. Yikes! How did you spend that much! What do you do now?? Well, you aren’t alone. And now it’s time to play a little catch-up on your finances and get things back in order. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks on how to quickly recover from holiday overspending. If you take it easy on your spending and follow this plan for the next 60 days, I’m willing to bet you’ll be right back on track!
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Let’s start with food budgets. Everyone has to have food, and this is a place where you can really save a lot of money this month. Get creative! Really look at what you have on hand to make meals. And try not to go out to eat!
First, you probably had a TON of leftovers from all the holiday meals. Hopefully, you froze some of them and can use them for a meal or two in the next 60 days. Remake them into something really delicious and totally different if you want. What’s important is to use them!
Clean Out The Freezer
Take a good look through the freezer. For the next 60 days, try to use up all that you have sitting in the freezer. I’m the worst for putting things in the freezer and totally forgetting about them. Use one or two things in the freezer a week for easy meals. You’ve already purchased this food, so you need to utilize it. Plus, if you get the freezer cleaned out over the next few months, then it’s much easier to defrost it when the spring comes and you want to do your spring cleaning!
Much like the freezer, take a good scan through the pantry! Look around in there and make sure you are utilizing all the supplies you have on hand. I’m willing to bet you’ve got at least a week or two’s worth of dinners and dinner accompaniments sitting right there in your pantry!
For tips on Creating the Perfect Pantry, read this!
Once you’ve utilized your supplies in the freezer and pantry, move on to planning some really cost-effective dinners. When you are planning your menu for the week, aim for cheap and easy. Not only will you save a lot of money with the groceries you need, but it’ll be easy to make, making it more likely that you’ll actually eat at home and not want to order out food.
Cut the Fast Food and Restaurants
Lots of people have made a resolution to eat better for the new year anyway. And part of that means you ought to be cutting out your fast food and restaurant eating for a little while anyway. Even pizza night costs you $25-$30. Go cheap and make the food at home. Learn to make the perfect Latte at home! You’ll save a ton of money and it will probably be even more delicious than what you’d have gotten out somewhere.
Supplies On Hand
We’ve conquered the food! Now’s the time to utilize the supplies we have on hand to save a little money!
I really like to make sure I’ve got a good stock (read: I’m borderline hoarding) household supplies. I like to make sure we have plenty of paper towels, toilet paper, bathroom supplies, cleaners, laundry detergent, etc. So, take a good inventory of the supplies you already have on hand. Maybe you can take your foot off the gas this month on buying any household goods and paper products. If you have two cases of paper towels in the garage (what? I’m prepared!) then you don’t need to take advantage of the next sale that pops up. Because they will go on sale again later.
Did you get any gift cards for Christmas? Or have any leftovers from last year? Make sure you use these up during this time. It’ll make for a nice treat if you do want to go out to eat, or if you need to buy something new. I got several this year that will be put to good use during the holiday expense recovery. I got one for a fancy grocery store and another for a clothing store. With the clothing store, I can take advantage of some of the winter sales they have and get a few new things for me or the kids!
Sell, Sell, Sell
Now that you have some new gifts, do you have things you should sell? Did your kids get a bunch of new toys and now you need to thin them out and get rid of some toys they have grown out of? Did your kids get a new video game system? Now you could get rid of the older system if you need to!
Do you have a bunch of baby stuff on hand that you aren’t going to need? Put some of those more expensive items up for sale and make some extra cash.
Chances are, you’ve got a house full of new toys. So the kids definitely don’t need any further entertainment for several weeks! However, if you do need out of the house, try and utilize free activities and outings as best you can. Sometimes the weather is on your side during January and February and you might even get some snow to help keep you home and the kids entertained!
If by now you are feeling like you can’t do anything fun for the next 2 months because you’ve spent so much money, don’t fret! Just get creative and you can still do fun stuff AND save your money.
Movie Night at Home
Don’t go to the newest movie and drop $100 on tickets and popcorn. Instead, get microwave popcorn and rent a movie on your Amazon or Fandango. Or pick one that’s already streaming that’s free to you with your subscription.
You could pick a theme for the month and watch all
Try out all those fun new games you just got for Christmas! Play a few rounds of games with the kids and have a fun treat afterwards. Boardgames are always fun! Or try out the new video gaming system that the kids just got for Christmas. There’s always a fun movement game or trivia you can play.
Spa Day at Home
Instead of going to the spa (which you probably totally need!), have a spa day or evening at home. Take a nice soak in the tub and relax. Then give yourself a facial along with a home manicure and pedicure.
Play Tourist In Your Own City
Visit your city’s tourism center and find something to do in your own city that you have never done. Take a walking tour and discover all kinds of things you probably didn’t even know about your own town. Take the time to visit museums you’ve always wanted to visit. Spend an afternoon at your library. You’ll be amazed at how many things there are to do in your town that probably doesn’t cost any money at all!
Get in some exercise as a family. Go for a hike, or a walk or to the park. And let everyone get some energy out. And the best part? It’s entirely free. Getting fresh air and exercise doesn’t cost you a thing!
Host A Potluck
Everyone might be craving some entertainment, but no one wants to spend the money right now. Host a potluck for friends where everyone brings a dish and BAM – dinner is served, and you have a party! With very little money spent!
Now is also a good time of the year to get productive. Take care of all the little things that have piled up that need your attention.
Do you have any small home repairs that need finishing? We are famous for buying the things to repair stuff at our house, then the supplies are in the garage for a year because we don’t take/have/make the time to ACTUALLY repair the things we need to. It happens to us again and again. So, go see what needs fixing and what you already have on hand to fix it with.
On that same note, do you have a ton of pictures that have needed to be put on the walls? Or a craft you did that needs hanging? Knock that stuff out this month and get it off your to-do list.
A few helpful items to make the home projects easier!
Clean out Closets
Now is also a great time to be cleaning out closets and cupboards. You need to make room for new stuff and throw out the old. And, you might come up with so much stuff to declutter that you could even host a yard sale when it warms up a bit!
Once everything is cleaned out, organize it. You’ll have a much easier time finding things if you know where everything is. And you’re much less likely to have to go buy supplies if you know exactly where you have everything on hand.
So, we’ve covered all the creative ways to save a little money this month. Now we are down to the hard stuff. It’s time to take a look at your finances and see where you can shave some expenses.
Take a look at your bills and make sure everything is good and there are no fees or additional charges that you can have taken off your bills.
Review your rates for home insurance, car insurance, cell phones, cable, internet, etc. Make sure you shop around and are getting the best rates possible for all your financial must-haves.
Can you cut out your fancy coffees for a month or two? How about taking your lunch to work instead of buying it out most days? Do you need the fastest of the fast internet? Could you downgrade your cable package? Look at all the expenses you have and see if you can cut a few expenses here and there. You’ll be that much closer to getting your budget back on track.
If you want a comprehensive post on cutting expenses, try this one for How to Save $615 This Month Without Even Noticing.
Thin It Out
For the next 2 months, your budget should be as tight as possible. That way you can save as much money as you can. And you can either replenish your funds with that money or pay down the credit card you just burnt up Christmas shopping. I try to plan for January and February to be “rebuilding” months in our yearly budget. I try to keep expenses as low as possible and I put in a line item that’s actually called “Christmas Recovery” each year. It’s just an extra allotment to make sure we are recovering from our expenses nicely into the new year.
If you did get out of hand, make your plan to pay off your holiday spending over the next several months. Try to get it taken care of as quickly as possible to save you money from paying interest.
Savings for Next Year
Analyze your spending for this year and figure out roughly how much you need for the next holiday season. From there, divide it by 12 and try to save that amount each month in your budget.
Take a look at your budget for the upcoming year and put in a line item to save for holiday spending each month. That way you have the funds available to you next year and you don’t have to use a credit card to cover the expenses. Paying cash for Christmas would be an incredible feeling!
Wrap Up – How to Quickly Recover from Holiday Overspending
I hope these ideas are helpful to you and that you can put some of them into action! It’s not the end of the world if you over-spent during this holiday season. But you do want to get a handle on it as quickly as you can. With these tips and tricks, you can quickly recover from your holiday spending, as well as plan for next year’s holidays for a stress-free season to come. Try some of these ideas out and as always, just keep shuffling.
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