So now that the holidays are over, are you happy that you paid for all your gifts in full or are you unhappy because you are dreading your January bills? And February and March? You get the picture. If you are the former, congratulations! If you are the latter, you have a whole year before the holidays are upon you again.
When I was younger, the banks offered a Christmas Club account. It was a savings account that was specifically for handling Christmas gifts. I remember putting aside a little money every week so that I would have enough money to buy gifts. All I had was an allowance and any money I could make working in the neighborhood. By the time November came, I felt like I had accomplished a big feat. The interest rate was negligible. But I did not do it for the interest; I was interested in the principle – the money.
Another thing that was available at that time was layaway. It was available all year long at most of the stores my mother shopped in. So if I saw something before the holidays, I could put it on layaway, pay for it a little every week, and with my last payment, it was mine free and clear. A form of layaway has come back into play around the holidays and is a great way to have your gifts paid for before you give them – and no after-holiday bills!
But what if you are still paying off your current holiday bills? Kimberly Palmer in Your10-Step Financial Recovery Plan says that main things on which you should focus are goal setting, making a plan, putting it into action, sticking with it so you can actually reach your goal.
One of your goals is to get your holiday bills paid. But what other goals do you have? Also, do you have a financial partner – someone with whom you can discuss your goals and help you build a plan that makes sense for you? If there is no one close to you who can fill that position, look online for options. You can find incentives and motivation that will help keep you focused and propel you toward your goal.
Build a plan – a step-by-step program that you can follow. Make sure your steps are small and achievable. If you make them too big or too cumbersome, you will give up and accomplish nothing but more debt and aggravation. Some people use vision boards that have pictures of what the end result will look like. Or you can put together a ‘look book’ as Kimberly calls it. It is a visual representation what why you are following the steps in your plan.
The most important part of your plan is ACTION. All of your goals and planning and visioning mean nothing if you don’t put them into action. Do something. You have already decided on your steps. Just follow them.
When you need encouragement (and you will), call on your financial partner or look online for motivation from articles, testimonials, etc. You can do this. A great way to track your progress is to review your week. That means EVERY WEEK look at what you have accomplished. Sometimes it is hard to see you are going in the right direction while you are still traveling on the road.
You have a worthy goal – to, if not eliminate you holiday bills, reduce them greatly. Enjoy the peace and joy of giving gifts and being holiday debt free. You can do it!