You Over-Spent on Christmas: Now What?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

Christmas is coming with a vengeance this year, with only four weeks between Thanksgiving Day and December 25th. For those who’ve waited to the last minute that means rushing, stress, and quite possibly, over-spending. We’ve all found ourselves there — the Christmas list keeps growing and our bank account keeps shrinking. With gifts left to buy, let alone food and other extras, we feel we have no choice but to dip into our savings or drive up our credit card balance.  If you overspend because of pressure to live to a standard that exceeds your income (especially during the holidays), the problem should be addressed; but that won’t help you deal with the immediate problem: the aftermath of your Christmas spending frenzy.

Redirect your spending guilt.

You’ve already over-spent, so unless you return items (if you already gifted them, that might be awkward), you’re unlikely to immediately recoup the loss. While over-spending isn’t something to feel good about, neither is it necessary to let guilty feelings keep you down.  If you feel guilty because you dipped into savings or jacked up your credit card, it won’t solve your problem. Use your guilty feelings as fuel to take positive steps and correct the problem, such as…

  1. Setting aside money from your next few checks to replenish your savings or quickly pay off your credit card.
  2. Closing credit cards that you’ve paid off to eliminate temptation to use them next year.
  3. Crunch the numbers  on a spending budget for the new year.

Quickly regain control, whatever sacrifices are necessary. 

Just because you can’t change the fact that you’ve over-spent on Christmas shopping doesn’t mean you should have a defeatist or nonchalant attitude about it, either. If you can’t regain control of your finances quickly, you may need to question whether you control your money, or your money controls you.  Regaining control may mean tightening things up for a few months until you’re finances are back where they should be. This will look different depending on how much you’ve splurged and how quickly you can replenish funds.  Regaining control could mean cutting out your extra cable channels, eating out less often or not at all, eliminating any unnecessary spending, skipping gourmet coffees, or packing your lunch for a while. The more quickly you can regain control of your finances, the faster you can move on to ‘normal’ living and financial security.

Learn the warning signs of a spending binge.  

Over-spending is just like any other vice you have to work at overcoming. The first step is recognizing the signs that you’re in danger of reverting to that type of behavior again. Are you spending too much time browsing online or in stores? Are you lingering over purchases you know you shouldn’t make? Are you refusing to acknowledge or look at how much you’ve already spent?  The best time to take control is before your spend, not after. Treat your problem area like you would an addiction, if necessary.

Don’t set yourself up for failure and expect the results to be different; make it harder for yourself to over-spend.  

Recovering from over-spending during the holidays can take months, and unless you take steps to avoid it in the future, you’ll just be getting your finances ready for another disaster. Follow these steps to keep yourself in check.

  1. Make it difficult or inconvenient to access your savings or emergency fund.
  2. Close credit card accounts before the next shopping season and immediately shred any new offers in the mail.
  3. Set aside extra money all year for Christmas shopping so it doesn’t hurt the rest of your monthly budget.
  4. Set limits on gifts for each family member  and don’t bend.

Over-spending isn’t the end of the world; with a little discipline and a game plan for avoiding the same pitfalls in the future, you can fully recuperate and set the groundwork for better control of your finances.

Bonus Tip:

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