Being Santa doesn’t do many favours for your bank account. With all the temptation of Boxing Day sales — along with the gifts you actually needed to buy for your friends and family — it should come as no surprise that your finances may be in rough shape in January. But don’t panic. Personal finance bloggers Jordann Brown of Halifax-based My Alternate Life and Kyle Prevost, one half of the Winnipeg-based duo behind the Young and Thrifty have shared for their best money tips to ease you through your over-spending hangover.
Re-frugal-ify your life
After your whirlwind of spending in December, re-acquaint yourself with money-saving habits in January. Consider packing a lunch, making coffee at home, carpooling with coworkers and limiting restaurant visits to once or twice per month.
Evaluate your budget
January is a great time to take a hard look at your budget. Scrutinize where costs have increased over the past twelve months and find ways to cut back on spending, be it renegotiating your car insurance rate, eliminating cable TV or switching to a less expensive cellphone provider.
Chill out and layer up
Turn down your thermostat and throw on a sweater. Even turning down the heat when you leave your home will shave costs off your heating bill. But don’t go overboard. If you set your thermostat below 10ºC, your pipes might freeze.
Keep the receipts
Be ruthless and return unwanted Christmas gifts. It’s the thought that counts, but when it comes to your debt, only the numbers matter.
Plan ahead — way ahead
To save yourself spender’s remorse next January, start planning now. Decide how much you’ll spend next holiday season and build up savings throughout the year. For instance, if you set next year’s gift budget at $500, start putting away $10 a week.
Crank up the slow cooker
Sure, it can be a pain to prepare meals in advance, but it’ll be worth it when you return home to a delicious-smelling kitchen. You’ll also be less tempted to grab take-out if you know you’ve got food waiting for you.
Lower your interest rates
Are you paying the lowest interest rate possible on your credit card and line of credit? The only way to know for sure is by calling your financial services provider and asking for a lower rate. If you have a balance owing, this move could save you hundreds of dollars in interest charges.
Spend what you got
Carry your gift cards with you and remember to use them. Billions of dollars in gift cards go unspent each year when people forget to use them.
Netflix and cook-in
Instead of dinner and a movie out, why not invite friends over for a potluck and Netflix party? Get creative with meals, buy cheap bottles of wine and light some candles for a thrifty and cheerful night in.