Are you wondering what to do now that Christmas and your money are gone?
January credit card statements have been rolling in with the bad news on how much Christmas shopping you did. The big problem is how will you find the money to pay the credit cards off?
WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?
You can’t go back and unspend the things you picked up for Christmas. Now’s the time to make smarter money decisions for next Christmas, revisit your financial goals, and keep the momentum going for 2023.
You should have a rough idea from all those credit card bills on how much you spent this past Christmas.
If that’s too much money, now’s the time to readjust that amount and get ready for Christmas 2023.
Or if that’s about the right amount of money, divide it by twelve. That’s how much cash you need to put into an envelope every month for the rest of the year so you have cash for shopping next Christmas.
Let’s break it down to make it easy.
Say you need $1200 for Christmas 2023 shopping. That means you need to put $100 every month into the Christmas Fund envelope.
Let’s break it down even more to help make it attainable. Every two-week pay period, $50 goes inside the Christmas Fund envelope.
If your goal is to save $600 to spend on Christmas 2023, then you need to put aside $50/month. Breaking it down into manageable chunks, every time you get paid, put $25 inside the Christmas Fund envelope.
Next Christmas will be paid with cash. Not plastic!
You can do it!
THE BIGGER PROBLEM
Even though you spent a lot of money on Christmas using your credit card, the real problem is the credit card was not sitting at a zero balance when you started. Equifax Canada says the average non-mortgage debt for Canadians is $21,183 per person. Car payments are being missed and delinquencies on loans and credit cards are rising.
Nerd Wallet says the average American credit card debt is $17,000. On top of that car loans are around $28,000 in debt. Yikes! That’s a lot of debt for one person to have.
Using a credit card that was already carrying a high balance, many Canadians and Americans pulled out the plastic to buy Christmas stuff.
Well, Christmas is gone but the debt sure isn’t.
Let’s go back to my post The Road of Financial Challenges on Low Income where I laid out a plan for 2023 financial goals. If you haven’t written down a plan and are staring at your credit card statements in panic, wondering where the money to pay them is coming from, you need to do this. Or come up with your own actionable list.
- Pay off debt. Try the snowball method I talk about in this post.
- Emergency savings. Read more in this post.
- Save money to ____. Fill in the blank. Maybe it’s a vacation, renovation, or a car.
- Make more money.
- Learn how to become a DIY investor
- Start a Christmas fund.
Let me add one more to this list. Pay for everything in cash!
PAY IN CASH
How do you do that?
You start by going to the bank to cash your paycheck. Or if your employer does a direct deposit, go to the bank and withdraw cash. You know what your fixed monthly expenses are, so leave enough money in the bank account to cover them.
Your biggest expense is shelter and you may already be on a system to pay rent with postdated checks or the funds are automatically withdrawn from your bank account. If so, leave enough money in the account to cover it. Try asking if your landlord will accept cash (and write you a receipt as proof). If your landlord is a big corporation or doesn’t live locally, cash would likely be inconvenient.
Other monthly expenses can be adjusted while you get your finances under control. You can have envelopes labeled “groceries”, “gas”, “clothes”, and anything else that you need money for. Once your cash is gone, you’re done spending for that month. Leave that credit card alone!
Let me add another item to the list: Don’t take on any new debt!
NO MORE DEBT
We’ll never be financially free as long as we have debt. Especially when it’s bad debt, like a credit card or high interest loan.
Most of my past credit card debt was due to dental work, car repair bills, vet bills, and living expenses to help me through bouts of unemployment. It was hard getting rid of that debt and once I became debt free, I was determined to stay that way.
Before I pull out my credit card, I ask myself if what I’m buying is something I can afford to go into debt over.
Sometimes I sleep on it, especially if it’s an impulse decision on something I want to buy. Maybe in the morning I won’t want it anymore.
I look at the price of the item I’m thinking about buying and calculate how many hours I need to work to pay for it. That will cost me 5 hours or 16 hours. Two days pay. Maybe more.
How bad do I want this?
Let’s come up with a plan to make our lives easier and less stressful.
1. First thing – incur no further debt! Cut up or put away your credit cards. No more unnecessary spending.
2. Gather up all your debt obligations and figure out whether to use the debt snowball or the debt avalanche to repay the money.
3. Find extra money by lowering expenses. What can you live without for awhile until the debt is paid off?
4. Is there an opportunity to find another job or work overtime to get more income?
5. Use credit card offers to transfer credit card debt to another card that has a zero or low interest promotion for a few months.
6. Find a non-profit credit counselling program in your area for assistance.
2023 MINDSET SHIFT
Who’s all about having a mindset shift for 2023?
We’re rethinking things and figuring out how to make our money work better for us. We’re figuring out how we can earn more money to throw at our debt and increase our emergency savings.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to find extra money to pay off debt or save for your retirement (or something else), the advice is going to be pretty much the same: figure out how to make more money and trim expenses.
This financial stuff is going to take commitment, but in the end it’s going to make our lives better.
No one wants to be drowning in debt. Enough is enough! Let’s make some changes.
You’ve got this!
We’ve got this!
It won’t happen overnight – but we can do it!
You’re not alone in this. If you need an accountability buddy, drop me a line and we’ll get it done.
Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on January 23, 2023.