How to Recover Financially from the Holidays

Penn Mutual

By Penn Mutual | January 9, 2018

We’ve just finished Spender December. Now it’s time for Contrary January, when the goal is to spend less and replenish the bank account. That’s because 43% of holiday shoppers regret their splurges, according to a survey by Lending Tree.

Here are 7 mostly painless ways to restore your financial balance:

Find the receipts. Return what doesn’t fit, things you forgot you bought and all the doubles. Don’t save anything to re-gift later. And don’t delay: There’s usually a time limit on returns.

Balance your budget. If you spent too much on one thing, figure out how you’re going to slice another budget category to offset it. For instance, if you couldn’t resist that big screen TV, shave the equivalent out of your dinner-out budget and try some new recipes at home this month.

Give your insurance a checkup. You could be paying too much for things like your car, homeowners or rental insurance. Failure to shop around can cost a driver $416 a year, on average, on car insurance alone, according to a study for Nerdwallet. Talk to the companies you’re using now and a competitor or two to see if you can get a better deal. Or better yet, find a good insurance broker who can help you analyze what you need and negotiate.

Take a hard look at cable and phone. Are you paying too much for features you aren’t using? Cutting back can really pay off. There will be 22.2 million U.S. adults who cut the cord on traditional TV services altogether in 2017, according to research firm eMarketer—up 33% from 2016.

Carry your gift cards. Or load them onto Gyft, an app that allows you to manage all of your gift cards from your phone. If you don’t organize them now, you run the risk of losing them and not being able to use them at all.

Brown bag your lunch. At least until you get back on your financial feet, avoid lunches out. Assuming that buying lunch costs about $10 a day compared to $1.50 for packing, you’ll save $2,210 a year, according to the Lunch Money Savings Calculator. Make eating at your desk more fun by recruiting some office friends to do the same.

Avoid making the same mistake next year. Set up a recurring weekly transfer from your checking account to a savings account for just $10 a week, and by next year’s holidays, you’ll have nearly $500 to spend on gifts and fun. You’ll feel a lot less regret next December.

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