The months of November and December bring my family more financial stress than any other months of the year. Between time off for my husband meaning reduced overtime pay, gift giving, travel, and the other things that seem to magically arise during any time of financial stress I can say for sure that we are not where we wanted to be at the end of this year. I’ve managed to almost completely deplete the savings that I had been so carefully setting aside. We have a credit card that we have sworn to use as “debit” only, in the way that we only spend what we have to earn the points and then pay in full setting aside each and every purchase in a special savings fund. I am ashamed to admit that this month will be the first time that we have not honored that and it is a source of great stress knowing that I won’t have enough to pay the entire balance when the due date arrives.
I’m talking to friends online and in real life and I realize that we aren’t the only ones suffering from a bit of financial holiday regret. I’ve decided that instead of being gloomy and letting it get me down I am going to look on the bright side and push forward. My husband enjoyed his time off and a horrible cold made him unable to work for a bit. Both unavoidable. Even with the difficulties we were still able to give the children a lovely Christmas. It was a beautiful month with so much love and family that I am having a hard time regretting anything. I am so grateful and now will be aware that I need to be more prepared in advance next year.
NOW for the killing of the Holiday Debt! Here’s my plan.
1. Just Own Up to It
The first step is fairly obvious but is a little embarrassing for me. Just adding it up and owning it. Take all of your debt and list it out so you know exactly where you stand. (I’m going to do this while I’m working on tweaking my budget for the new year)
2. Stop Spending
This one is the hardest to do consistently, but we got this! Cut back where you can. And really be honest about need vs. want. Can you do something that you consider necessary in a less costly way? Think of it as temporary if that helps you out but until that debt is beat? Less is ALWAYS more. Keep in mind how awesome it is going to feel when your goal is accomplished and you are free. Debt to me is like being owned, freedom to me is being debt free.
3. Regular Payments
We are not trying to do minimum payments here. If that’s legitimately all you have then do it, and do it on time on each and every card or loan.
Those extra pennies saved from step #2 go straight to debt payment. You can start with the smallest to knock it out fast Dave Ramsey style or start with the one with the highest interest rate. Whatever floats your boat…. but just get after it like you mean it. Find a side hustle, sell some things you don’t need, and put that money straight towards debt before it has a chance to go out for something else.
5. Don’t STOP
That debt will be nixed before you know it. Now it’s time to keep on keeping on. Use the same strategy to bulk up your savings so you are prepared in advance for the next holiday season! That’ll also help when those great deals arise so you can have your gift shopping done well in advance and also be saving yourself some last minute holiday stress next year!