5 Best Ways to Recover from Holiday Spending Before April 15
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) If the holidays left you in the red, you're not alone. The average personal expense for gifts in 2013 totaled more than $700, according to Gallup, and Americans overall spent an estimated $602 billion on presents, food and decorations, according to the National Retail Federation. If you're eager to get your budget back on track before tax day on April 15, check out the five best ways to recover from holiday spending.
1. Stop spending
Stop the spending, says Alicia Botti, Ameriprise financial adviser in Northville, Mich.
"Once you know where you were spending to excess, stay away from danger area whether it be takeout food, certain stores, etc. until you have your new spending habits established," Botti says.
Unfortunately, now is the time of year would-be savers turn into "out of season" shoppers, says Jana Francis, founder of discount shopping site Steals.com.
"A lot of people think that shopping now, post-holidays, will snag them great deals. Don't do it," Francis says, adding that this kind of thinking only leads you to buy things you don't need which means you're actually spending more.
"I still have Christmas lights I bought at 75% off many years ago that isn't even opened because I bought it because it was on sale, not because I needed it. Buy for things you will need in the next two weeks not the next 12 months," she says.
2. Make cutbacks
Cut back on a few luxuries temporarily, like your monthly pedicure or fancy coffees, says Trae Bodge, senior editor of RetailMeNot.
"Instead of going to the gourmet salad bar near the office, bring lunch from home," Bodge says. "Also, scrap the monthly car wash with detailing and/or the extra movie channels on your cable account. You'll pay that fund back in no time!"
If you're unsure where the "luxuries" are in your budget, Adam Levin, chairman and co-founder of Credit.com, suggests looking for "leaks" in your budget.
"Take a look at the kind of expenses you accrue in a given week. Look at the $4 lattes and the iPhone apps you can't seem to live without. Little things that add up that seem to be invisible at the time, but they add up, and then you have a problem," Levin says.
Although it may be tempting to go to extremes and cancel your cable bill, for example, Levin cautions against going overboard cutting out budget items that are more necessities than wants.
"Make sure the changes that you make are sustainable changes that you can commit to. Don't just cut your cable off one month only to turn it back on again next month," he says.