At the time of this writing, treatment it’s a few days before Christmas. The world didn’t end today (surprise). The gifts are wrapped, lights are twinkling, a light snow is falling outside my window and I have a hot cup of cinnamon tea by my side. It’s rather Norman Rockwell-ish. However, by the time you READ this article, January will have arrived, the lights and tinsel have faded and the bill for all those Christmas goodies is looming on the horizon. It’s just not as pretty of a picture on this end, huh?
My number one piece of advice in any situation is DON’T PANIC….so don’t panic, okay? Now we need a plan to get back on track. So here are a few tried and true tips.
1. Don’t go shopping! I’m serious. Those after Christmas sales are just as enticing as the before Christmas sales. You really aren’t saving anything by buying that roaster pan for $9 if you don’t actually NEED a roaster pan. If you already have three, it’s a given that you don’t need another one. You aren’t getting a good deal if you buy something you don’t need, regardless of the price.
2. This is really the first priority, but I had to use up number 1 to stop the spending. Tithe! Yes really. Never cut back on your tithe. It belongs to God. The blessed 90% will go further and do more than the cursed 100%. Trust me on this one!
3. Use up those leftovers. Not everyone’s feasting ended on December 25 and there are those of us who still have way too much festive food lying around. Make some creamed turkey over toast for dinner. Ham and eggs for breakfast anyone? Pick the meat off the bones and freeze it. Boil those bones and make broth and you can freeze that too if you don’t want to make soup at the moment. Package up all those cookies, candies and cakes and pop them in the freezer for a later time. By February (or maybe March) you’ll be in the mood for a pot of beans and ham. You’ll be saving money by not throwing out food that you’re tired of.
4. Review and rework the budget, or maybe for the first time MAKE A BUDGET. Know how much you have coming in and how much you have going out. Leftover money should be split between savings and paying off debt.
5. Look for ways to increase your income. You have talents that you have never tapped into. Start teaching piano or guitar lessons if you are skilled that area. Are you gifted at cutting hair? Spread the word around your circle of influence that you’re available for these things. If you price yourself properly you’ll save others money by being inexpensive, and at the same time you’ll increase your income by using those talents.
6. Return to a cash only system. Those plastic cards can get you in over your head pretty quickly. Waiting until you have the money to buy something will give you time to see if you really wanted/needed it or not. We humans aren’t a big fan of waiting, but it’s good for us.
Whatever financial state you find yourself in, be thankful for what you do have. Help the less fortunate when you can, and keep pressing on. Don’t get so caught up in where you are that you fail to see where you are going!