The holiday shopping season is at an end just as quickly as it began. For most Americans, that means a return to normalcy after a month of festivity. For some, however, it is the start of a financial struggle due to being perhaps a bit too carefree with their spending. Are you finding yourself with a financial hangover after a month of hefty credit card use? Here are five ways to bounce back after a month of heavy holiday shopping.
Keep Up with Your Payments
Getting a credit card statement after heavy holiday gift spending can be discouraging. The last thing you should do, however, is to ignore that bill. Payment history is the biggest impactor of a person’s credit score. This means that a late or skipped payment can cause you financial harm for years to come.
Even paying the minimum balance due makes a huge difference over not paying anything. One of the big downsides, however, is that the minimum might incur more interest over time. Still, it will save you negative remarks on your credit score and credit report. Having a spotty payment history can lead to loan application denials and higher interest rates on auto loans or mortgages.
Budget, Budget, Budget
The holiday season is when many Americans ignore budgets and spend big on friends, family, and themselves. Once the party is over, however, the financial realities of the 2021 holiday season sink in. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known for savings, but they are also times when millions of Americans break their budgets and lock in early Christmas, Chanukah, and other holiday gifts.
The situation gets worse when last-minute shopping (including the National Retail Federation’s “Super Saturday” before Christmas) only exacerbates the situation, leading to retail debt. Bouncing back from too many holiday purchases requires budgeting. Take a close look at what you are spending on. From here, review where you can make cuts for things that aren’t necessary. If you still want the freedom to shop, for instance, you might have to live with fewer takeout meals or deliveries.
The key is making a budget that works for your lifestyle while also meeting your financial goals. This process may take some fine-tuning, but it can help prepare your finances for the rest of 2021, 2022, and beyond.
Avoid Impulse Buying
What’s the point of a budget if you don’t stick to it and expect to spend well in excess? Credit cards are great because they let you make purchases and pay for them later. This flexibility, however, makes them dangerous for impulse buyers.
Avoid the desire to buy something as soon as you see something desirable about it. Don’t fall victim to ads on social media that encourage you to buy now and worry about it later. Sticking to your budget might cause some short-term heartache with the loss of shopping binges, but it can reap serious rewards in the near future.
Focus On Paying Off Balances, Not Rewards
Another reason credit cards are such popular options for making purchases is the rewards they offer. A vast assortment of cards feature rewards earned with every purchase, either in the form of points or cash back. Sure, these rewards can save you money over time, but they also serve as negative reinforcement for impulse buying.
After a holiday shopping and entertainment spending spree, thinking about credit card balances – and not points – is the best course of action. Carrying lower balances means you’ll be paying less in interest charges each month. Now that’s a reward worth aiming for.
Consolidate Balances to Speed Up Repayment
If you have multiple credit cards, consider a balance transfer to combine all those amounts owed. The purpose of a balance transfer is to consolidate existing balances and pay them down with one payment.
Because of that goal, balance transfer cards typically come with a lower interest rate than other types of cards – especially rewards credit cards. Conducting a balance transfer can reduce monthly payments, free up cash for groceries, and help a tight financial bottom line after holiday spending.
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