Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Dreaded Financial Hangover

The holiday season is such a fun and special time of year with so much to celebrate. I love driving through town and seeing Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music wherever I go. I also love all the delicious holiday treats and big family dinners on Christmas Eve. But, with the holidays can also come some stress, some chaos, and even some financial woes, especially come January when the bills start rolling in from your generous Christmas giving and you feel the weight of throwing that budget out the window in the name of the Christmas spirit. Today I have a few ways to avoid that dreaded Financial Hangover in January.

Get in the habit of paying yourself first

My parents always taught me that it was important to pay myself first when it comes to savings account. Its easy to tell yourself that you will save whatever money is left over at the end of the month, but I find myself spending whatever I have in my checking account. So, whenever we get paid, I first put a small amount into savings, and then I pay bills, go out to eat, get a coffee, buy gifts, or whatever else I have planned. We have learned to make it a habit to save a portion of our income and then force ourselves to live on whatever is left over. That way, we always have that savings account to fall back on in cases of emergencies. Emergencies don't take a break during the holiday season, unfortunately! Just in the past month we've had to replace my car tires and I've had some medical expenses come up unexpectedly. Having a savings account, even a small one gives me a peace of mind.

Write Christmas Gifts into Your Monthly Budget

If you are already using a monthly budget, and I hope you are, one really great way to be financially prepared for Christmas is to set aside a Christmas Gift portion of your budget and save a little bit of money each month or paycheck so when Black Friday rolls around, you can snag up some awesome deals with cash in your hand!

I would recommend setting aside about $25-$30 a month for your shopping, depending on how many gifts you plan on buying. If each month you set a little money aside, you won't have to feel the pressure of buying gifts for everyone with no money saved.

Keep Track of Your Expenses & Income
I use an excel sheet to keep track of our regular monthly bills, our income including blog money and side jobs, and any unexpected things that come up like car repairs, medical bills, etc. Each month I analyze our spending to see where our money is going, and where we could cut down. We leave room in our budget to treat ourselves, but it helps me to know exactly where our money is going. Putting a dollar amount to our "treats" really helps put it in perspective and makes me more conscious about our spending. This helps me make better decisions for the upcoming months, and it allows me to prepare for the big ticket bills that only come up rarely, like our HOA dues or our Insurance which we pay biannually. Being aware of your finances, of where your money is going and what is coming up is a big part of having financial peace.

Use your Credit Cards Responsibly

There are two sides of the street when it comes to using credit cards, and I will tell you that we will always be for using them responsibly because in the last year we've gotten some really amazing rewards including free plane tickets and gift cards! The key to using credit cards responsibly is that you commit to paying them off each and every month. It is possible for you to have this intention but then the end of the month comes and you don't have that amount of cash, so stick to your holiday shopping budget, write everything down that you spend, and pay your card off as soon as possible. If you pay your card off each month, you won't pay a penny in interest but you will receive the rewards. Do some research about your cards and if you aren't getting rewards from using it, its time to switch! We pay our credit cards off sometimes immediately after making a big purchase so the balance doesn't get to high, and I make a payment every payday just to be sure we never run into a situation where we owe more on it than we can pay off.

Financial Peace is attainable, even during the holidays! 

While you may have gifts, greetings and get-togethers on the brain, it's important not to lose sight of your financial goals. All of Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale deals are designed to encourage consumers to keep their finances top of mind. Visit to give yourself the lasting gift of financial peace of mind by taking advantage of Capital One 360's deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products.

Just for opening a new checking and savings account, you could earn a $200 bonus! Think of the Christmas shopping you could do with that! The best part of these accounts is they are fee-free and they earn interest. You can also score some amazing deals on brokerage and mortgage products, and even get bonuses for referring a friend. Make sure to stop by and check out this amazing holiday magic that will help you stay on track to meet your financial goals this holiday season. This awesome Black Friday sales ends Monday at 11:59 ET.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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