Back On Track

How to bounce back from overspending over the holidays

Angelo G. Garcia

freelance journalist

GET AHEAD Find alternative ways to earn more and pay off debt fast

It's a New Year and a time to set new goals. But where to start when you're still reeling in the aftermath of the holidays? Let's face it, most of us incurred a bit of a dent to our bank accounts, as we do every single year. 

It is a fact that people spend more during the holidays. People shop more, eat more, party more, and travel more in this period. All of us are guilty of overspending during the yuletide season, spending more than what we intend to because of all that extra money. 

So how do you fix your finances after spending all that 13th month pay and carelessly swiping those credit cards? Getting back on track can be a slow process but you have to start somewhere. 

According to entrepreneur and financial expert Fitz Gerard Villafuerte, founder of Wealth Arki, a Philippine-based financial planning and wealth management company and author of "The Ready To Be Rich Guide to Investing: Learn How to Invest effectively to Achieve Your Financial Goals," there are ways to bounce back from this financial dilemma.

His advice: go back to basics. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the additional bills you have to pay in the next few months, so it is important to know where you stand.

“My advice is to go back to basics, which is knowing how much your monthly cash flow is. This means tracking your expenses and taking note of how much your take home pay or actual income is. When you know the exact numbers, it will be easier to adjust your expenses so that you don't spend more than what you earn,” he says.

Take a moment, sit down, and write the numbers. It's easier to get back on track if you know exactly what you're dealing with. Track your expenses in a month, plus the additional installment plans you need to pay in the following months.

“It's also important to list down the debts you need to pay, especially credit card debts that you've incurred during the holidays. And make sure that you allocate a portion of your income to pay it for the next couple of months,” Villafuerte explains.

This also means that you have to tighten your belt a bit. Be more precise when spending your money. Don't commit the mistake of spending more than what you have.

Invest or Start a Business

Extra income always helps anyone who wants to build his/her finances. So it's ideal to think ahead and find alternative ways to earn more.

If the holiday season brought a lot of business opportunities, the first quarter of the year is also perfect for seasonal businesses. It's the peak season for gyms, healthy restaurants/food delivery services, and flower shops, just to name a few. Take advantage of upcoming holidays like Valentine's Day and, of course, summer season.

“All businesses have their lean and peak seasons. Some do well during the first quarter, such as flower shops because of Valentine's Day. And gyms, because people are getting ready for the beach. Following this logic, it's always a good time to invest. Because there's always an opportunity in the market,” Villafuerte says.

Your business doesn't have to be big because a small investment can go a long way.

A lot of people are into health and fitness this time of the year, those who are trying to get back in shape after binging during Christmas and those trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. So if you know how to cook, why not start a diet food delivery service? Or perhaps sell healthy packed meals to your coworkers. 

Your business doesn't have to be big because a small investment can go a long way.

 

It's also a good time to think of long-term investments so that you can plan ahead and not worry about your future. Villafuerte says you have to be clear about your financial goals because this will dictate where to invest.

“More so if you're planning to invest for the long-term (at least five years), because most investments are really meant to be held for several years to earn significant gains. Before looking for investments, you should first define your financial goals. What do you plan to do with your money? When do you plan to spend it? Your financial goals will dictate where you should invest. And consequently, lead you to where you should look for opportunities. For example, if your goal is to buy a house within the next three years, then perhaps it's a good idea to look for real estate investment opportunities. Learn about foreclosed property investing and flip your way up to your dream home,” he says.

It also helps that someone guides you along the way. Get help from financial planners and research the best investment that fits your finances and lifestyle.

Stick to Budget Next Time

Just to be prepared for the next holiday season (300+ days to go!), you have to remember this simple tip: stay within budget. There's a reason for having a Christmas list, use hat accordingly.

“Overspending is usually caused by impulse purchases. So aside from properly budgeting your income, you can learn strategies to avoid unnecessary spending,” Villafuerte shares. 

One helpful tip is bringing enough cash during Christmas shopping and leave your credit cards at home. The logic behind this is, it's harder to spend actual cash than using a plastic card.

“One effective method is to carry just enough cash when going out. Leave your credit cards at home, especially if it's just an ordinary day. It's harder to spend with cash because it's painful to let go of money. Plus, you'll always think twice of spending or risk not having enough money to eat and go home,” he ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

ANGELO G. GARCIA is a freelance journalist who contributes to ABS-CBN News Online and Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. He's the former section editor of Campus, the education and youth-oriented page of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. In 2014, he won the top honor in the Lasallian Scholarum Awards for his feature article. He is also works as a social media manager for various local and international brands.



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