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Christmas is gone—and all your money went with it.
If you know how that goes, you’re not alone. A lot of us overspend at Christmas. A recent study showed 46% of Americans feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the holidays.
While you can’t go back in time and take back the gifts you already gave, you can set yourself up to make better choices next year. Here’s how you can finish 2016 well and start 2017 off on the right foot.
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1. Create a budget
Kick off the new year with a written budget. Sit down with your spouse or accountability partner and give every dollar a name. It’s easy to let your spending slip into the abyss in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, but those shopping receipts can’t stay under the rug forever.
Avoid running into another Christmas money pit by planning your 2017 holiday budget this month. How much do you want to spend on gifts next year? Divide that number by 12 and start setting aside that amount each month. You can even set up an automatic transfer to move the money into a separate account. That way, it’s out of sight and out of mind—but ready for you when Christmas rolls around again!
Related: Whether you want to create your budget on paper or create it online, we’ve got you covered! Download free budgeting forms and learn about our free digital tool, EveryDollar.
2. Set realistic goals
What do you want to accomplish with your money in 2017? Setting goals keeps you motivated and excited about the future. Plus, it reminds you that your financial goals are just as important as the goals you have for your career, relationships and personal development.
Your money isn’t going to win on its own—you have to tell it what to do.
Make time to dream about what you want to accomplish. Think short term and long term. Are there certain vacations you want to take this summer? Do you want a new dining room table before Thanksgiving? Would it feel great to put away three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund this year? Write your goals down on paper and stick them somewhere you’ll see them—like on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. Remember that for goals to work, they also need to be specific, be measurable, and have a deadline.
Related: Chris Hogan explains how knowing your personality style is helpful when it comes to interacting with others and setting goals.
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3. Give generously
How do you avoid developing an attitude of entitlement and greed? The answer is generosity. Giving is the antidote to selfishness. Plus, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have with money! Think about it. Have you ever paid for the person behind you in the coffee shop drive-thru? Isn’t it fun to see them light up with joy and gratitude? You get just as much out of it as they do.
If you want to win with money, get serious about holding your money with an open hand. Put a giving line at the top of your budget and make it a priority to be generous every month. But be mindful on how and where you give. Invest the same time and energy into your giving as you put into your personal investments.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Creating a budget, setting realistic goals, and giving generously are three of the necessary ingredients to a successful 2017. Your money isn’t going to win on its own—you have to tell it what to do.
Financial Peace University will guide you through these steps and so much more! Classes are starting near you throughout January. Find a class in your area right now!