How to Budget After the Holidays

Get your money back on track with these budgeting tips.

During the season of holiday parties, gifts, festivities, and travel, your budget can quickly fall by the wayside.  While it’s okay to treat yourself, family, and friends during special occasions, it’s also essential to get your finances back on track.  AAA has some tips on how to budget that will have your bank account saying thank you for some much-needed TLC.

Know where your money stands

Take a good look at your bank and credit card statements to know precisely how much you’ve spent on both leisurely items as well as necessities like rent, mortgages, utilities, etc.

Create a repayment plan that works for you

Make at least the minimum payments on your accounts and put anything left over towards accounts with higher interests. According to NerdWallet, a 50/30/20 budget may help. Dedicate 50% of your monthly income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and repaying debts. Consider using tax returns and holiday bonuses to pay down your debt.

Spend Smart

Another crucial lesson in how to budget after the holidays is to limit your spending. Avoid frivolous spending, especially when retailers start marking items down.  Resist the temptation. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

Consider a no-spend January or any month. Only spend on essentials. Skip out on that expensive drive-thru coffee or going out to dinner for a month and see how much money you save! For things that you have to buy, like groceries and other essentials, use coupons and make the extra effort of shopping around to make sure you’re getting the best deals on your items.

The 3 R’s

    • Redeem – if you’ve been using credit cards with cashback programs, redeem your points/miles for cash, gift cards, or other tools that will help to budget after the holidays.
    • Return – don’t let any unwanted items you received over the holidays sit in closets and shelves. Return or exchange gifts you don’t plan on using or keeping.  Replace them with cash or an item that you’ll actually use.
    • Rebates – take advantage of any rebates you received from places you shopped. It can be a hassle to fill out forms and send receipts in the mail, but if you’ve done a lot of spending, those rebates can add up to money in your pocket that could help pay off some debt or budget for the months to come.

Challenge Yourself

It’s easy to say what we “need” to do, but making something a chore could mean it’s less likely to get done. If you set goals/challenges for yourself, it can be a way to motivate yourself to stay on track with your budget. For example, create a goal of depositing money into a separate account once a week for a whole year. On the first week, deposit $1. On the second week, deposit $2, and so on until you get to $52 weeks.  If you stick with this plan, you can save $1,378 by the end of the year.

 

If you’re looking for extra tools and ways to help budget after the holidays, take a look at AAA’s Financial Services page.  Products like our Deposit Program and MemberPay Visa® Prepaid Card may help make 2021 the year of the budget superstar.