The holidays are over, the gifts have been opened and the decorations have been put away. For many, all the joy of seeing friends, sharing gifts and eating holiday treats can suddenly vanish when the first large bill arrives in the mail.

January can be a difficult month financially. All the consequences of large gifts, extravagant meals and long trips come crashing down when we check our bank accounts or start receiving monthly bills. But spending and debt from the holidays can be managed.

Check out these tips for reining in your finances:

  1. See what you’re up against – First things first: bring all your bills together to see what the total damage is. Schedule some time to look over all your credit card bills and bank statements, then start looking into your regular bills – student loans, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, etc. You’re going to need a full picture of everything you owe to devise a plan that works.
  2. Prioritize payments – Once you know what you owe, figure out when all those payments are due so you can prioritize them. If you have credit card debt, look at the terms of those cards and work on paying those with the highest interest rates first. In the meantime, stop using those credit cards. Using the card while you’re trying to tackle debt gets you trapped in an endless cycle. 
  3. Budget! – The importance of a budget really can’t be overstated, especially if you want to get out of credit card debt and change your spending habits. If you’ve gone over all your debt and bills, you’re halfway done with a budget anyway! Listing out your expenses gives you the complete picture of your financial needs and there are plenty of resources you can use to help create your own budget.
  4. Get the family on board – It’ll be way easier to stick to a budget and eliminate debt with a support team. The healthier you are financially, the better it is for your family, so talk through the spending habits that may need to change and why that will be good for all of you in the future. This will also help in developing better spending and debt habits in your children.
  5. Find creative ways save – Here’s where you can make your debt and spending plan your own. Find interesting creative ways to save money by using coupons, shopping for deals, learning new recipes to avoid carryout food, returning unused gifts, selling items you no longer use and many more. There are dozens of easy ways to save money that work for any situation.

Changing your habits is daunting and takes a lot of self-discipline. But anyone can change their financial situation with the right resources and hard work!

Read more about budgeting and everyday affordability!