Avoiding a slugfest over the value of joint assets
If the 2008 financial crisis did not rein in your Christmas spending and you are now suffering from a post holiday gift giving hangover, there are a number of relatively easy ways to save money and pay off those purchases early in the year.
Paying down credit cards with the highest interest rate is a good place to start. If you only made the minimum payment last month, try and pay 10 per cent more this month, and continue to pay an additional 10 per cent until you have paid off the entire bill. While the solution is simple, it also means that you must spend 10 per cent less each month.
Frugality will have to replace frivolity and start by curbing your spending on the little things. Tracking the small purchases will easily reduce your spending by ten percent. Skip the lattes and make your own coffee. Brown bag it. Think before you spend too much on lottery tickets. With one in 14 million odds, it will take you about 268,919 years to hit the jackpot!
Use a credit card that pays you back. As soon as your credit card debt is gone, donít cut it up - exchange it for a card that pays you back in cash, mileage, or gift cards. Change the way you view credit cards and look at them as a vehicle to earn more money, not as a way to amass more debt. As long as you pay the entire balance at the end of the month and continue to earn rewards from the card issuer, you are in a win-win situation. But the key is to stop using your credit cards until they are paid off, and then charge only what you can pay off the next month.
Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees. Keep track of your bank balance and avoid over-draft fees. Avoid ATM fees. Use a grocery shopping list to avoid impulse purchases.
Regulate your hydro. When you are not in a room, switch off the lights. Use a programmable thermostat. Discard old appliances. That old refrigerator in the basement may be costing you an extra $100 - $150 a year to run. If you must check every ten minutes to see if the frozen pizza is done, remember every time you open the oven door as much as 20% of the heat escapes. Plus the oven has to work harder to replace the heat. Better still turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking is complete so the heat in the oven will finish the job.
Hang your clothes to dry or use a dryer only for socks, underwear and other small items you would feel odd hanging outside. You can also put a drying rack in the basement. Dryers use lots of electricity and gas, plus ruin your clothes over the long term.
Find ways to bring in extra income, whether it's a part-time job or a garage sale to get rid of items that are other ugly reminders of Christmases Past.
Eat out less. Youíll save money, possibly lose weight, and spend more quality family time if you eat at home. Avoid vending machines. Stop using paper towels, visit your library, and use Skype for long distance calls.
Commit to managing your money every week, not just once in a while. Start a Christmas savings account now, and contribute to it regularly for the next holiday season. Instruct your bank to automatically transfer money from your checking account into savings every month for what you donít see, you wonít spend.
So how to avoid future financial debt of Christmas Yet to Come? Just like Santa, make your list, check it twice, and stick to it!