New Year’s Day has already come and gone, leaving us to “look forward” to Blue Monday, the (unofficial) most depressing day of the year. This year, Blue Monday falls on January 18, the third Monday of the month.
The day is calculated using several factors such as weather and, yes, debt levels as people start to receive their credit card statements from December. Maybe this year, you – and your wallet – are feeling the blues from a holiday season of heavy spending.
Paying down your credit card debt may currently be your number one priority with a New Year’s resolution to be more fiscally responsible. So, instead of leaving your holiday planning to the last minute and putting everything on credit, you’re going to plan, starting now!
It may sound unrealistic. Who starts planning for the December holidays in January? But the only way to avoid a financial hangover next year is by taking preventative measures today. Drink a lot of water and follow these simple steps, never to have a debt-plagued January again.
Pay down your balance
Before you start to save for next year, you may have to recover from your post-holiday debt. If you swiped your credit card a little too freely over the holidays, the interest might be bogging you down.
You may want to consider applying for a low-interest rate credit card where you can transfer your existing credit card balance. The MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® offers an 8.99% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers and 24.99% on cash advances. A fee of 1% of the amount advanced (minimum $7.50) does apply. This card has a $39 annual fee.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
Although your debt doesn’t magically disappear, transferring your balance may allow you to take advantage of lower interest rates and get ahead. To take full advantage of this card, you’ll want to tuck it away for a while. New purchases won’t have the same grace period, and regular interest rates usually apply. If you’re lucky, these measures will ensure this will be your last financial hangover.
Use last year’s spending to plan this year’s budget
You have all the receipts, bills, and statements in front of you from your celebrations. Now is the best time to review exactly how much you spent on gifts, food, and other expenses over the holiday season. Use these figures to make your budget for next year and see where you could cut a few corners.
Start saving now
Now that you have a budget to work toward, you can start putting aside a little bit of money each month to reach that goal.
Open a savings account that’s specifically for holiday spending. It may sound over the top, but you could save faster than you expect. Non-traditional financial institutions or online-based banks are more likely to have higher interest rates because they have lower operating costs, enabling them to pass on savings to the consumer.
For example, EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account offers an everyday high-interest rate of 1.50%*. Another great option is the Oaken Savings Account at 1.25%. You may soon have more than enough for the holidays.
If you find that your current earnings aren’t enough to cover the savings, this is also an excellent time to look at making some extra money. Declutter your house and list some items online, take on a few extra hours at work, or start your own side business.
Buy holiday items now
Many retailers are slashing the prices of their holiday goods, so now is the perfect time to stock up. Small items such as wrapping paper, cards, and decorations are heavily reduced after the holidays and can easily be tucked away for next year.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since Christmas, so you probably have a good idea of who you need gifts for next year. If your list doesn’t look like it’ll change too much, keep an eye out for presents throughout the year. For example, buy winter gear for your family at the end-of-winter clearance and do the same for each additional seasonal sale.
Plan a low-budget holiday season with friends and family
The holidays don’t have to be about spending tons of money! Have a chat with your family and friends about how to keep costs low next Christmas. Plan a gift exchange with your family, a dinner out with your friends, or opt for homemade baked goods as gifts.
There are plenty of options for cutting costs while still spreading holiday cheer. The holiday season is all about spending time with the people you love. When January rolls around, don’t let those feelings of joy and love turn into feelings of disappointment and anxiety due to post-holiday debt.
Make it easier on yourself by taking a few moments to plan and avoid a financial hangover.
Rates, product information, and rewards estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, January 5, 2021.
This post has been updated.