Holiday spending is a lot like holiday feasting. It feels great in the moment. But, eventually, if you are out of control, you might come down with a case of “The Januaries” as you face the consequences.

“The Januaries” are the post-holiday aftermath. And, whether you’re assessing your waistline or your bank accounts, the reaction is usually the same: Shock, disappointment and a firm resolve to do better in the new year.

Want to avoid “The Januaries”? Start by following these three simple steps TODAY:

  1. Write down all of your monthly income (after taxes and deductions). This could be as simple as your monthly work income, or it could also include alimony, child support, income from rentals, retirement income or any other regularly received income.
  2. Write down all of your “regular” monthly expenses. This one is going to be a much longer list. It should start with your rent or mortgage payments, any second mortgages or home equity lines of credits, your real estate taxes, and homeowner’s insurance (if it’s separate). Next, write down expenses like  alimony, child support or dependent/child daycare payments. Then, start drilling into the details: electricity, gas, water, sewer, telephone (if you have a landline), cell phone, cable costs, health club fees, auto loan payments, auto insurance payments and credit card payments.
  3. Estimate and write down all of your variable monthly expenses. Once you have all of your “standing” payments documented, go through your receipts, or, if you track your all of your purchases (and you should) you can accurately estimate how much you spend monthly on: groceries, school lunches, commuting, automotive maintenance, gas, personal care, medical/dental care and prescriptions, home services (like house cleaning or gardening), pet care, entertainment, gifts, dining out, clothing purchases, travel and any other miscellaneous expenditures that you regularly make.

Now, add up all of the expenses from #2 and #3 and deduct them from your total income from #1. The remaining number is your current disposable income.

While this exercise isn’t always fun, it is usually very enlightening. Once all of your revenue and expenses are documented, you’ll get a clear picture of your current spending. You also may see opportunities where consolidating your debt could save you money. In other words, by eliminating multiple minimum payments, you could make one payment monthly, which could pay off your outstanding debt faster while also putting some disposable income back into your monthly budget.  

Interested in learning more? See how a personal loan might help you pay off your debt AND provide some much-needed relief in your monthly budget!