By Kayla Smith | Honor CU
“I spent too much at Christmas!” Do you say that every year? I know I do. But, this year I was not going to let that happen! I didn’t know where to start, so I just started making a list of things I know I spend too much money on. I came up with five tips to help get your budget back on track this year.
Look at your credit card statement
It’s so simple, but scares so many people. But, you have to start somewhere. Looking at your credit card statement lets you know a few important things.
- You need to know what your payment will be – or maybe how much your monthly payment has increased after the holidays.
- Can you afford to keep swiping your favorite credit card while knowing it’s going to take time to pay off the total balance?
- Do you know the interest rate of your credit card? It’s often hidden in small print on your statement, but it’s important to know how much interest you are being charged each month. This can help you identify which card you might want to pay more on each month.
Limit your spending
Okay, this one might be tough, but if you’re serious about getting back on track it might be the most important tip to follow. You probably have a good idea of your bad spending habits, but my list might help refresh your memory:
- Instead of buying that iced coffee in the morning, I will make it at home
- Instead of running through the drive-thru at lunch, I will pack my lunches
- Instead of those impulse buys on Amazon, I will make a shopping list of essential items, and stick to it!
What can you return?
Every gift you received means something to you when you open it, but you might not have plans to use everything you received.
Take a good hard look at everything and decide what you know you will use and what you can return. Even if there are only a few things you can live without, $10 or $20 in returns is money for your essential spending.
Set an allowance
Maybe you splurge now and then, and that’s okay. I limit myself to a set dollar amount a month so that I don’t go over my budget and deplete the savings I’ve worked towards all month. So by the time the month ends, you can look back at what you would’ve spent for every coffee you purchased before work or the boxes of Amazon Prime on your doorstep, to the money you now have set aside as an emergency fund or payments to that credit card you’ve been working to pay down.
Make it a challenge
There’s strength in numbers! Sit down with family or friends who also want to get back on track and create a challenge. Be honest with each other about what you want to stop spending money on and what your goals are. Set some rewards and punishments, like doing the laundry or dishes, or maybe it’s doing the activity the other person likes that you don’t. Make it fun, be realistic, and hold each other accountable.
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