Happy New Year, Everyone!
I’m not sure how your year went, but I know that mine seemed to go by faster than usual. I hope that you and the ones you love enjoyed a successful year – not only personally and professionally, but financially, as well.
There may not be many of us stateside who follow the Chinese calendar, but those who have heard of it may know that 2016 is the “Year of the Monkey.” I personally hold the Year of the Monkey dear to my heart, because my first born daughter was born in 2004, which was also the Year of the Monkey. I don’t have much insight to the Chinese calendar or any type of predictive power; I also don’t believe in leaving our lives in the hands of fate. I believe we move forward in faith and we create our own futures based on the decisions we make today.
The Holidays are behind us now and our waistlines may be a little bigger at this point. As well, many of us may also be getting that first notice in the mail that our budgets for the shopping season may have also been a little stretched. Now is the time to act if we want to keep the debt “monkey” off our backs in 2016. Here are a few simple steps to make sure you have a successful year when it comes to your finances.
A. Schedule a budget/finance meeting with yourself or significant other as soon as possible.
B. Assess the “damage” caused by your holiday overspending.
C. Come up with a plan of attack to pay off that debt (historically successful plan below).
D. Determine how much of your budget can be put toward debt payments.
E. Pay minimums on all debts, except the card with the smallest balance (put all other allotment toward the smallest card/debt until it is completely paid off).
F. Now continue the structure above, but put the majority allotment toward the next smallest balance until it is gone.
G. Continue this until your cards/debts are all paid off.
H. Once all debts from the holidays are paid off, start using that monthly debt payment allotment to save for next year’s holiday expenditures, so you can be sure to have enough budgeted to avoid using cards completely.
I know this isn’t the typical, “pay off highest interest cards first” strategy, but I’ve seen this approach work very well with multiple families who have focused determination to eliminate debt. It is encouraging, and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you see your debt destroyed one account at a time. If you were able to follow our advice from last year’s “Ghosts of Christmas Presents” article on budgeting for Christmas … GREAT JOB! If not, perhaps you can take a look at that November 2014 My City article (mycitymag.com/category/my-city-columns/my-finances/) to help ensure that 2016 is the only “Year of the Monkey” you have.
We wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!
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