December is one of the most joyous times of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. From holiday parties, to buying gifts for everyone in the family, to traveling out of state or even out of country, it’s no wonder that so many people need a dedicated stress-recovery strategy once January rolls around.
Now that it’s a new year, schedule in some time to recover from all the holiday stress—for yourself, and your finances! Read on for a few financial destressing tips to get you started.
Understand Your Debt
Be kind to yourself, but also realistic, about your debt situation following the holidays. Check your most recent statement on any credit cards, and evaluate if your outstanding debt was affected in any other way over the holidays—for example, if you missed a loan payment due to larger than normal outgoing expenses in December. While you might think that ignoring debt issues or putting them off until later is the best way to stay stress-free, ultimately it’s a lot less stressful to know exactly how much you owe.
Set Goals for Next Year
There’s nothing to get you feeling enthusiastic and empowered after a stressful holiday season like setting some goals for the new year! Write down your top financial aims for the next 12 months and keep this list in a place where you’ll see it often—whether that’s an electronic document saved on your desktop, or a pen-and-paper list taped above the sink. Another great tip is to get an accountability buddy, such as a spouse or a friend. Share your goals with one another and commit to check up throughout the year on your respective progress toward these targets.
Build That Budget
During the holidays, we tend to give ourselves permission to overspend. While there’s nothing wrong with going into the red on occasion, now that the festive season is over it’s time to get back on track! Budgeting might not be the most common form of stress-relief, but many people find it surprisingly relaxing to map out their incoming funds and outgoing expenses. And, with so many great budgeting apps available, there’s no excuse to wait another year.
Shop the Sales
After an entire season of holiday shopping, it’s possible that the last thing you want to do come January is any more spending. Indeed, many people opt for an entire no-buy month to kick-start the new year. Limiting your purchases after an expensive December is a smart move, but on the other hand, you can sometimes find steep discounts in the first few weeks of the year. If you’re already in need of seasonal items such as winter clothing or cold weather sports gear, it could be worth it to check out some post-holiday sales—just make sure you’re budgeting for this spending and not purchasing more than you can afford just because it’s on sale.
Know All Your Financial Options
Do you know all the financial products available from your credit union or bank? Most institutions have lots more than the basic savings and checking accounts, and understanding what’s on offer can help you to get the most value from where you do your banking. For example, you might be eligible for a balance transfer to a new credit card that will consolidate your debt and offer a zero-interest promotional period—which could be a good option if you want to pay off your holiday debt with less interest. Financial counseling is another service that’s sometimes offered for free, and it’s a great way to destress after the holidays.