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Life After Christmas: Changes You Should Make for Next Year

From all of us at iMoneyCoach, we hope you had a very special Christmas this year filled with family, friends, warm memories, and laughter and love.

We have found that although a fantastic holiday with lots of wonderful things, often people become anxious and depressed after Christmas thanks to the credit card bills that start rolling in. The good news is that you can avoid that feeling next year if you start making a plan today. Then you can truly enjoy Christmas and focus on what is really important to you without that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach anticipating the bills.

Here are a few ways to get started on financing Christmas for next year:

1. Save up throughout the year – If you were to add some money to a special Christmas fund each year (i.e. open a new bank account just for Christmas money), you could save up a significant amount with which to buy presents and your Christmas dinner groceries or even plane tickets. It feels much better to be able to pay for these things ahead of time than to spend the next year trying to pay them off. You can still charge them to your credit card to get miles or points, but be sure you have the money ready to pay off those bills as soon as they arrive. A good way to start saving is by looking at how much you spent this year. We’ll get to cutting down expenses, but go through your bills from this year to see how much you spent, then divide that number by 12, and you have an estimate of what you should be saving each month.

If you aren’t sure or think you are unable to save any money for Christmas next year (much less for your savings and investing and paying off debt), then be sure you consult with a financial advisor who can help you create a budget that helps you do so, and do so in a way that fits your life without cutting out every “want” expense in your budget (*hint* iMoneyCoach can help you do that, and we even have online courses so you can learn it from home!).

2. Shop the sales – Whoever said you have to wait until December to buy your Christmas presents? While some people will go out and buy everything they want (which makes them hard to shop for no matter what time of the year), there are others that you can shop for early. Perhaps you have a friend who absolutely loved a Christmas decoration she saw in a yard you drove by. You could pick it up on clearance and give it to her next year (maybe a little early so she can use it!). Or you could stock up on some cute jammies for your kids for next year or books and toys for your nieces and nephews. Immediately after Christmas there are some great bargains you can find and stock up on rather than spending more later.

3. Save Up Gift Cards – There are numerous programs out there that with a little bit of time allow you to save up gift cards that you can use on your Christmas shopping or to give as gifts. Some sites that I have personally used to save up gift cards and money include SurveySpot, Zoompanel, Ipsos i-Say. Other sites that help you earn money by shopping or watching videos include: Swagbucks, Ebates, and Jingit. And some apps that give you ways to save at home or on the go include: Viggle, Shopkick, and Surveys on the Go. There are tons more out there, but I know that you can legitimately earn money and gift cards using the ones listed here. You can use a combination of different apps and sites to build up a great gift fund.

4. Start a new hobby and make your gifts – Suppose you have an interest in woodworking and are looking at taking up a new hobby. Homemade gifts can be very special, and if they save you money while allowing you to express your inner creativity, then that’s great! Maybe you can learn how to make keychain money-holders for your family and friends next year. Or maybe you have always wanted to learn to knit and find that you have a knack for knitting cute winter hats. Just make sure that the gifts come from the heart and that they will be useful or liked by your recipients (i.e. you may enjoy building your own fly fishing lures but Grandma Iris may not like to fish).

We want you to be able to feel satisfied in being able to fund your Christmas and to get to enjoy it next year without the stress and worry of credit card bills right after the holidays. So be sure to get started today, and remember to take a minute next year to pat yourself on the back for a good job of planning and saving.

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