Have you woken up today, several days since New Year’s Day and gaped at the sight before you? Empty beer bottles scattered around, loads of food leftovers, take outs, and people you haven’t seen in ten years curled in your sofas?
In your stupor, have you come across a pile of receipts on the table, and your legs buckled in surrender, because there is no way you spent all that money?
In a hurry, have you checked all your mobile money accounts, bank statements, and allowed the feeling of guilt to wash over you? Still in disbelief, have you rummaged your phone at least for photo evidence of what really transpired?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then you are having a financial hangover.
A financial hangover happens when one spends a lot of unplanned money on something(s), especially during holiday celebrations, and now they’re left feeling extremely broke.
With the holidays almost over, the parties and constant gifting may already have you reeling. Even if you did your best to remain within your budget, it's easy to get caught up in excitement of the holidays, resulting in overindulging and overspending.
If this has been you in the last few days, here are a few tips to help you recover from the hangover, and ensure you do not run into the same problems next time.\
Before you can rectify anything, you need to know exactly how much you have spent, which was above your budget. From buying gifts, attire, décor, food, etc. to the unplanned expenses like eating out, Black Friday/Boxing Day sales, etc. Once you’ve gone through your debit card charges and made a list of everything related to the holiday, you’ll be able to put an exact number to your holiday over-expenditure and start planning on how to recover this money.
As soon as Christmas is over, the sales begin and the discounts and price cuts can be very tempting. Don’t be caught out by low prices: only buy if it is something you need, or would have been buying regardless, otherwise it is wasted money.
If you’ve received a gift you don’t want or can’t use, consider exchanging it for money to go towards your necessary expenses (like food or rent). If you’ve received gift cards (shopping vouchers), you can sell them for cash online at a slight discount.
In case you went overboard during the holidays, and even incurred debts, consider paying them off as fast as you can, and save money that would otherwise be wasted on interest charges.
If you halt spending money on something (even just one) on the more unnecessary side (wants), like entertainment and eat outs, you can easily start replenishing your bank account.
Pick one category you can survive without, and stick to it.
Budgeting is a sure way of controlling your money instead of letting it control you. That way, you can avoid future financial hangovers and heal from the current one faster.
Always be prepared with a list for what gifts or party items you need to get. By having a list, you’ll already have a rough estimate of how much the items cost, and whether or not they fit into your budget.
After the holidays, be sure to avoid impulse shopping, sticking only to what is in your list, and within your budget.
Debit cards make spending online simple, and this can also lead to us spending more than we originally planned to.
To get out of this menace, take out enough cash for what you need and leave the card at home when going shopping. That way, you can only spend what you’ve got, which reduces the risk of overspending.
In order to make more money to recover what you spent during the holidays, consider starting a side hustle. It doesn’t have to be anything as tasking as your usual job (if you have one). You can even decide to make money online, via filling online surveys, teaching different languages, academic writing, etc.
Plan ahead by having a different savings account just for holiday expenses. Each month, ensure you deposit a portion of your income into that account, so that when holidays come knocking, you don’t have to worry about spending more than what you already have.
It's easy to blame yourself for wasting money over the holidays. Whatever it is, pay the bills and move forward. You can use this experience as a learning lesson to be more responsible.
Financial hangovers are painful and more often than not, make us beat ourselves up, wanting to do everything possible to get out of that situation. However, you really have to make changes to your spending and have meaningful goals that will keep you on track when temptation strikes.
Although not exactly avoidable, you can ease the pain of financial hangovers by temporarily halting spending on wants, making extra money via side hustles, and saving some cash in anticipation of holiday expenses.
While the excess spending and financial hangover may have been incurred subconsciously, with a few well-defined steps, you can slowly remedy your situation to get it back on track and be better prepared for the next year.