The holidays are now over and we are all back to work. I would say my transition back to the office wasn’t that difficult, I settled into my work routine quite fast than i expected. Anyhow, like any other year, the time to recover from the overspending and over-stressing of the holidays is here. Yes, it’s that time of year when we realize just how excessively we spent during the holidays. I must say am a little late to this party but it’s better late than never.
Settling back into my financial routine has been a total nightmare. I agree to the saying “We have Black Friday, then dark January.” Yes people, Its February and am yet to get back to a healthy financial rhythm. January has been a financially tough month for me and has even trickled down to February. I have had a zillion bills to pay some of which were unanticipated but most of which I should have anticipated and planned for or maybe even paid them in December.
So, if you went overboard in December, or had a rough January like I did, don’t panic. At some point in our lives we have all overspent – it’s just human. And like the good person am always am, here are some steps I have taken that made the whole process much easier.
Face the problem
Yes people, face the problem head on. The first step we should take after the holidays is to review all of our spending. Taking a comprehensive look at what we’ve spent and what were the biggest splurges. Printing out our bank statements and looking at where we spent most of our money. For most of us, that will likely not be because we purchased too many gifts for other people but more likely, those gifts we bought for ourselves. Let’s be brave enough to face our spending. It gives us a good starting point to see the wrong choices we made, learn a few lessons from it and come up with a way forward.
Don’t keep money woes to ourselves
If you’re truly down in the dumps and unable to cope with your financial situation, you need to find someone to confide in. If not a family or friend, consider contacting a proffesional who can help you set up a financial plan.
Let’s not be afraid to seek help. You will be surprised at how just talking about it and seeking advice would make a whole difference. Remember we won’t lose anything by asking for help but on the other hand have so much to gain. It can help us manage our debts. However, I cannot insist enough on this, Talk to the right people.
Also remember we aren’t the only ones who need help getting our finances back on track after the holidays. Its okay to team up with someone else in a similar position to share our goals and keep each other accountable. Hitting the reset button on our finances is more manageable and fun with the help of a friend.
Remember what’s really important
The best way to cope in an overwhelming situation is to remember what is important. Money does not create happiness. Take time off the financial stress and appreciate the beauties of this world. Be grateful for what you spent your money on. Debts and bills to pay should not stop us from going for that walk with our babies or stop us from enjoying that car we bought. Stop and breathe and things will look easier the following day. Let’s focus on the positives. I know it’s easier said than done, but we can do it.
Rethink Friendship circles
Numerous studies show that the friends we hang out with can have a big effect on our finances, particularly if our friends are wealthier or more spendthrift than us. Peer pressure is real people and It happens to all ages and even to the smartest ones too. That’s why we truly need to rethink those who are closest to us. Let’s have friends that appreciate our financial positions and are even happy to help us get back to the rhythm.
And If we have none in our current circles then it may be time to find new friends. You would be amazed at how many people secretly know that they need to tighten their belts and are looking for someone to walk that journey with. Find them and support each other.
Haggle, haggle, haggle
Learn the art of negotiating for better deals. Fear is what stops most of us from asking for a better price. Ask for a discount everywhere you go. Yes, even at your doctor’s, everything is a business and businesses are often open to negotiation. It will save us a dime or two which we can use to pay for other pressing bills. But as I always say, learn when to stop and pay a decent price.
Get cash back
We all received or bought ourselves some unwanted gifts over the holidays. It might be something we don’t like or a duplicate of something we already had. Calling the stores and asking if it is something we can return is okay. It may generate some immediate return to our accounts. We may get an instant cash refund to pay off a bill or a store credit which we could use to pay for an item of pressing need. Yes people I know it’s not the ideal situation but we got to do what we have to do.
Avoid Quick Fixes
Last but not least, let’s avoid falling for quick fixes. No matter how our debt/bills seems overwhelming, quick fixes are not the answers. Stay away from those companies that promise to help us settle debts, or those easy to access Shylock loans or the get money quick scams. I know it’s very tempting, but it’s always more expensive at the end. It’s always important to remember it’s a journey. We may go astray sometimes but how we rise up and get back to the right path is what’s more important.
And as Jacinta Mpalyenkana says “Money is like a river. It flows where the conditions are conducive to its flow.”