CALGARY – MONEY – For many people the real New Year’s hangover is the money overspent at Christmas time. Money Mentors says, “With bills from Christmas pouring in and due dates for credit card payments drawing closer, the New Year brings your current financial situation to the forefront. In December 2016, an ATB Financial poll showed 41 per cent of Albertans planned to spend less on Christmas gifts in 2016, with one in five people significantly cutting back. But, what about the other four?
There’s no coincidence that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to spend less, and save more. Here are a few ways to prepare for success in 2017 – and they’re not as difficult as you may think.
1) Plan for Next Christmas
Although Christmas is over, there is no better time than now to start planning for the next one. You should budget for Christmas gifts, and any expenses you may have that will be coming around again in 2017. Try to review your spending from previous years, and use this figure to budget how much you’d need to save over the next few months so that you don’t have to use your credit cards for these known costs.
2) Find Ways to Spend Less
Always try to find areas to cut back on in your budget so you can pay extra towards your debt or into your savings. For example, you could try renegotiating your mobile phone plan, or downsizing your cable subscription. In addition, find ways to avoid spending money on “wants” altogether.
3) Earn Extra Money
If you’ve already cut back as much as possible, there are other ways to find additional debt payments. Selling items that you don’t need is one approach that will generate some money that you can save or put towards your debt. Alternatively, you can find a second job that will help decrease your debt at a quicker pace. This strategy is most successful when you put every additional dollar earned towards your debt.
4) Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
More often than not, people tend to compare their lives to those closest to them. In the financial world, we call this “Keeping up with the Jones'”, and it can be exhausting. Everyone’s income and expenses are unique, which is why it is rarely a good idea to buy yourself a new truck just because your neighbour bought a new truck for Christmas. Be honest with yourself in what is best for your standard of living and lifestyle.
5) Keep Motivated with Creative Financial Goals
There are a lot of unique ways to keep your financial goals on track through the year with creative financial challenges. Try to set rules for yourself like: “I will never pay full price in 2017”, or, “For every $20 I spend on a want, I will match that amount and put it into my retirement fund”. It can be frustrating to stay on top of every single dollar you spend, which is why finding balance is so important.
6) Ask for help if you need it
If you are struggling to find a financial plan or budget that works for you and your family, don’t be afraid to seek help from an unbiased organization. Money Mentors helped Albertans pay back $17.8 million dollars of debt in 2015. With a ton of free and painless solutions out there, you don’t have to forge a path to debt reduction on your own.
Organizing and keeping your finances up to date may seem like a challenging task, but the reward of financial success is a great one. Free online home budget tools can help. It also prepares you for financial security in the years to come. The paycheque to paycheque cycle doesn’t have to continue if you spend some time focusing on being in control of your money.
Money Mentors is the only Alberta-based, not-for-profit credit counselling agency. Through a number of services, we help families and individuals recover from financial crisis and move forward. From credit counselling and money coaching to retirement planning and community financial literacy, we are creating a healthier financial future for the entire province.