January is upon us, and it’s an exciting time to celebrate the New Year.
At least it’s exciting until you receive that dreaded January credit card bill that includes all of your holiday purchases. You thought you were stressed out in December during the holidays – but many people face extreme stress come January when they have to find the funds to pay off their credit card debt.
Not only does all that stress affect your mental health, but it takes a toll on your physical health as well. It can weaken your immune system, which in turn makes you more susceptible to catching an illness. It can also lead to unhealthy behaviors such as such smoking, substance abuse or overeating, which can increase risk factors for depression, obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Below are some tips for dealing with current financial issues, as well as ideas for the future to avoid financial stress around the holidays.
- Confide in a friend or family member. If you are feeling depressed about your current financial situation, don’t keep it to yourself. At DHS, if you are an employee or dependent, you may utilize our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by calling 800-234-0630. Or contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma at 405-789-2227 or 800-364-2227. The CCCS offers in-person, online, or telephone counseling.
- Create a plan. Try to pay off your holiday purchases within three months by making adjustments to other expenses.
- Become a budgeter. Use phone apps to help with your budgeting plans. This website can even send you alerts when you are approaching your spending limit.
- Give yourself an allowance. If you have a strict budget, you will find that you won’t stick to it for very long. Give yourself an allowance each month to use on “fun” purchases.
- Watch your credit card spending. By doing this, you will be able to afford to pay off your credit cards each month. This will improve your credit score, as well if you keep it up for at least a year.
- Start your holiday shopping early. Spread your spending holiday throughout a few months instead of all at one time.
- Set up a separate savings account and create a budget for holiday spending. Break that budget up into smaller increments and deposit that amount in the account throughout the year. Then when it’s time to start shopping for gifts, only use the money available in that account.
- Consider using cash. Next season; consider using cash to purchase your holiday gifts. If you use cash, you’ll feel the immediate impact of each purchase and may make you think twice before going overboard on gifts this year.
The holidays and every day are all about spending time with family and friends – not stressing out about your financial situation. Take these tips into account and become a smart spender!
You may also want to read the CSQuest article Help for Your Financial Wellness.
When you made your 2018 New Year resolutions, I hope you remembered this quote from author and financial advisor Suze Orman:
“No one’s ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that’s abandoned by February.”