Lifestyle

'Twas The Day After Christmas

Your Money

With Cherryl Hanson-Simpson

Wednesday, December 25, 2013    

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'Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a person was stirring, not even my spouse;

Scattered all 'round the tree were torn paper and bows;

Discarded wrapping for the gifts, from toys to clothes.

My loved ones were nestled all snugly in their beds,

While visions of nice presents danced in their heads;

For me, sweet sleep was elusive throughout the night,

And day's break only brought my fears into the light.

I had spared no expense in giving my family the best;

But now, reality hit like piercing steel to my chest;

With all the bills and debts set to meet me next week,

My financial future was looking desperate and bleak.

My twist on Clement Clarke Moore's classic Christmas poem, A Visit from St Nicholas, reflects the situation that many people may face after the excesses of the holiday season. Once the frenzied pre-Christmas splurging is over, they soon begin to regret some of the financial choices they made.

The presents have been exchanged, the cake, sorrel and ham have been consumed, and the trendy new party attire has been worn. If you had spent more money than you could really have afforded, you may now be left with feelings of remorse about the cost of your holiday activities.

Despite the happy smiles and heady excitement that your spending had brought, you may wonder if it was all worth breaking your budget and incurring additional debt. If you're currently reeling from the effects of your holiday shopping sprees, here are some steps to help you recover.

ASSESS YOUR CURRENT SITUATION

Like all other personal or financial concerns, the first step in finding solutions is to determine the true extent of your challenge. Most people waste precious time pretending that their money problems are not that worrisome, instead of being honest and facing their issues immediately.

You should still have all your receipts in your possession,

so make a record of your spending and calculate the total amount you paid. If you had used your credit card for your purchases or taken a loan to facilitate your shopping, then ascertain how much debt you will have to repay.

MAKE AMENDS WHERE POSSIBLE

Next, carry out an assessment of all the things you had bought. If you realise that some of the purchases for your personal use were unnecessary and extravagant, and the packaging is still intact, find out if it's possible to return the goods for store credit, or hopefully, a cash refund.

If you shopped online, you may still have time to cancel the transactions if you act quickly. There's no shame in admitting that you went overboard with your purchases; you're the one left to deal with the financial repercussions, so do whatever is necessary to claw back some of your money.

BE PROACTIVE IN CUTTING BACK

Despite your best efforts to retrace your steps and cancel some of your purchases, you may still be faced with costs that will negatively affect your financial viability in 2014. There are still a few days left in the holiday season, so ensure that you don't rack up additional expenses in that time.

If you want to get back on solid ground quickly, you will have to make some drastic sacrifices in the coming months. Scale down your New Year's Eve party plans; suspend your cable package; take lunch to work instead of eating out; find ways to trim your budget and pay off your holiday bills.

EXAMINE THE LESSONS

There's no way to turn back time and change the unwise decisions you made; the only thing you can do is to try and learn from your mistakes. Examine your situation and see where and why you veered off the pathway of financial prudence and resolve never again to repeat those errors.

Did you feel obligated to buy expensive gifts and splurge on Christmas dinner, even though you knew you couldn't afford the price tag? Were you trying to impress other people, or did your spending make you feel better about yourself? Examine the emotions that led to your choices.

RESOLVE TO REFORM

You may recognise that you lack self-discipline when faced with temptation, or that your friends are bad influences when it comes to money. Perhaps your shortcoming is a lack of planning. Wherever the underlying issues that caused you to overspend may have been, try to address them honestly.

You can turn all your financial mistakes into valuable lessons, once you use them to improve your attitude towards, and actions with money. Use the distress and remorse you may be feeling now to motivate you to make a fresh financial start in the New Year.

Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Get more advice on money and business matters at www.financiallysmartadvice.com and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. E-mail comments to cherryl@financiallysmartonline.com.

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