The holiday season has come to a close, you’ve ushered in a new year, and the reality of your overspending is settling in. You are experiencing a financial hangover. In case you’re in denial, a few classic symptoms of a financial hangover include:
- Buyers remorse or a guilty conscience,
- Next purchase anxiety as you swipe your credit/debit card,
- Uncertainty on how next month’s bills will be covered; or
- The need to justify purchases you’ve made for yourself and others.
Unlike proposed remedies for “other” hangovers, definitely don’t continue to spend! Instead, consider this short list of remedies to help you recover from a financial hangover.
Return unused purchases immediately.
Now that you’ve dug a hole in your wallet with the purchase of that new cashmere sweater or electronic whatcha-ma-call-it that you haven’t worn or used yet, make sure all tags are attached, locate the receipt, hold your head up high and go return it – immediately. Oh wait, the item is not returnable. Well, go online to see if it is now on sale so you can receive the discount and stash the price difference in your bank account.
If things are really bad, you can apply this “return” theory to holiday gifts you received. Reminder: Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you received a gift, especially an item you already have, consider returning it (e.g., look up the brand or SKU#) for a store credit. In this scenario, you may receive a gift card for the value of the item which you can then use for a household or personal need.
Initiate a financial fast.
Calculate how much you regrettably spent and place yourself on a financial fast for the next 30 days to close the gap. This means, no premium or luxury purchases for the next month. Anything that doesn’t fall into the category of basic food, clothing (e.g., uniforms), or shelter – chop it. No on-demand movies or eating out. Suspend entertainment accounts like Netflix or dating site memberships to correct your budget deficit. This is the sacrifice you must now make for your spontaneous decision to overspend – Take it Like a Man!
Get to the root of it all.
Why did you overspend? Be honest and identify the heart of the matter. Did you suffer from an emotional spending binge in an attempt to cheer yourself up or combat loneliness, anger or frustration? Were you trying to impress someone by picking up the bar tab, or gifting an expensive item? Did you fall prey to the trickery of brand marketing – $250 Off, Today Only?
Whatever the reason, identify the source and create a plan of action to combat your behavioral overspending. Find an accountability partner who will give you wise counsel in times such as these. This should be someone who will not judge you, but will coach you to make financially sound decisions.
I want to hear from you. We’ve all made unwise money choices in the past, what have you done to remedy a financial hangover?