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Christmas is gone—and all your money went with it.
If you know how that goes, then you’re not alone.
It turns out, a lot of us lost sight of our money goals and got a little too caught up in the holly-jolly spirit at Christmastime. A recent study by SunTrust Bank showed 43% of those who bought holiday related products said they felt pressured to spend more than they could afford at Christmas.(1) And the National Retail Federation reports that the average consumer spent $967 on everything from presents to garland and tinsel this Christmas.(2)
While you can’t go back in time and take back the gifts you already gave, you can set yourself up for making new money goals this year. Here’s how you can finish 2017 well and start 2018 off on the right foot.
5 Ways to Get Your Money Goals Back on Track
1. Create a budget
First things first . . . You need a budget! Sit down with your spouse or accountability partner and be intentional by giving 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.
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Our free budgeting app EveryDollar makes this super easy. Just plug in your income and expenses and you’ll be able to see what’s planned, spent and remaining for the month. Best of all, it’s quick! You can create your very first budget in as little as 10 minutes.
After you’ve created your budget, here’s an idea: Avoid diving into another Christmas money pit by planning your 2018 holiday budget now. 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 next year!
2. Set SMART money goals
What do you want to accomplish with your money in 2018? Setting the right goals will keep you motivated and excited about the future. Plus, it reminds you how your money goals are just as important as the goals you have for your career, relationships and personal development.
Your money isn’t going to change 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 later this summer? Do you want a new dining room table by Easter? Wouldn’t it feel great to have three to six months 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 in the bathroom mirror. Remember, your goals need to be specific, measurable, and have a deadline for them to work.
3. Get a Refresher on the Baby Steps
So, you fell off the wagon and got carried away with overspending at Christmas. While that’s not ideal, you’ve got to learn from it and leave it in the past. It’s time to get back on the horse and get to know the 7 Baby Steps again!
Rip the Band-Aid off, get out your budget, and start looking for ways to build your cash back up. Figure out where you can save money. There are plenty of ways to cut back if you just know where to look!
4. Use the Debt Snowball Tool to Pay Off Your Credit Cards
If you used plastic to pay for Christmas, it’s time for a change! Grab those shiny little credit cards and cut them up, shred them, or make an art project out of the pieces. Whatever you do, get rid of them for good! Then get serious about paying them off. List your total debts in order of smallest to largest, and start attacking the smallest. That’s right, it’s time to use the debt snowball method to start paying off all of your debt. You can even use our handy debt snowball tracker to see your progress along the way!
For even more resources, check out our Smart Moves section for more tools on how to manage your money and prepare for life’s events throughout this coming year.
5. Remember to Give
Want to know how to 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 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 in your budget and look for ways 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
So let’s recap: Following the Baby Steps, sticking to your budget, using the debt snowball method, setting realistic goals, and giving generously are five of the necessary ingredients you need to have a successful 2018. It’s time to take control of your money instead of wondering where it all went. You can do it!
Dave’s Financial Peace University course will guide you through the Baby Steps and teach you how to budget, ditch debt, and invest for the future. Start your membership now!
Already know the basics and need some extra motivation? Sign up for our NEW Baby Steps Boot Camp. With 15 doable challenges, this email series will help you get gazelle intense!