It seems pretty common for Americans to spend more than they want to (or should) during the holidays. Instead of making us more joyful, this can lead to anxiety, the feeling of lacking control, and guilt.
One popular way to recover from damage done is to enact a “no spending money in January” policy. My family has done this for as long as I can remember. Sure, we’ll spend on some incidentals here and there, but overall we refrain from excess spending whenever possible. We don’t buy anything new. We don’t go out to eat. And I must say, I actually like this tradition. It turns the focus on what I do have rather than what I don’t. Going a month (at least) using the resources that I have available rather than searching for new ones allows me to appreciate what’s right in front of me. And isn’t that a big take-home message of the holiday season anyway?
– Rather than eating out, why don’t you whip up something at home? If you already cook, great! If not, it’s definitely a skill worth learning. We have some awesome recipes here at PD, but if you’re looking for something even simpler, check out this cute site.
– When it comes to having fun, there’s plenty to do on a budget. Have a picnic. Go for a hike. Host a potluck. Teach yourself a new craft. (How about knitting?) Or check your local events calendar for free activities–I bet there are plenty of them.
Bringing in some extra money is a surefire way to ease the pain of an expensive month or two. The fun part is that you can be creative in how you go about doing this.
– After the holidays, I always try to compensate for the gifts I received by selling or donating older versions of what I got. Clothing, electronics, books and more! You can help others in need and, in some cases, end up with a little more padding in your pocket.
– If you have time on your hands, check out Craigslist (or similar resources) for freelance work or paid gigs available. If that’s not really your thing, maybe you could make a small profit from some sort of trade or hobby. (Those crafts, perhaps?)
The best way to ease overspending is to prevent it in the future. Planning in advance helps the problem rather than the symptoms.
– Set a budget for future expenses and stick to it! Know how much money you are willing to spend maximum and try to keep your costs at that mark or below. It also helps to set up accountability with friends and family.
– When you do have to spend, opt to use cash instead of credit cards. It is much more painful to lose cash than to charge a purchase, which might cause you to spend less in the long run.
– Those holiday checks that you received this year? Don’t be so quick to spend them. Saving them for something really special (or an emergency) is a fulfilling alternative. Or better yet, use the money to pay off your debt!
If all else fails, give this Meditation on Prosperity a shot. It may give your worrying mind a rest.
Also by Quincy: Alternative Ways to Get Your Fats
Photo: 401K(2013) via Flickr