4 Steps to Avoid the Holiday Spending Hangover

It's official - the holidays are upon us.  We've got a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks - holiday parties, eggnog, gifts giving, great food, holiday cookies, Christmas trees… the list goes on.  

The holidays are a season of generosity.  Americans spent $656 billion on holiday shopping in 2016.  (The next biggest shopping season is Back to School, which "only" roped in $84 billion.) 

The downside of all that holiday generosity is the dreaded January spending hangover. 

Below are 4 easy steps to avoid the post-holiday spending hangover and still enjoy giving your loved ones really cool stuff.

  1. Create a spending goal - Humans are wired to enjoy achieving goals.  By setting a spending goal, you trick your subconscious into enjoying not going overboard. 
  2. Save then spend -  Your spending goal should be whatever you've saved up for the holidays.  Haven't saved anything?   Then "splurge less" in equal amounts to your holiday spending.  If you normally eat out 6 times a month, then eat out 3 times in December instead.
  3. Track your spending - The simple act of "witnessing" your spending has a self-regulating effect.  And it's really easy to track your spending these days - use www.financialzengroup.com  or www.mint.com or www.youneedabudget.com or any of the other spending tools out there. 
  4. Reward yourself - To reinforce your goal, decide ahead of time how you'll reward yourself for achieving it.  Treat yourself to a massage or a nice dinner out or whatever else slides your sleigh.

Don't let your January credit card bill kill your holiday afterglow.   By thinking ahead and using a little financial technology, you can enjoy all the fun stuff that December brings without having to pay for it in January.  (See what I did there?  Ho! Ho! Ho!)