The holidays have come and gone. After a short “Jingle Bells” break, winter has now spit on its hands and taken a tighter grip. Also, if you’re typical in any way, two lovely things will be in your mailbox shortly, if they’re not already there this month:
- The bills from those holiday celebrations
- Income tax forms (oh joy)
Now’s the time to really watch every penny you spend. Sure, it was fun. It will be again. But for now, can you:
Hold Off From Spending Those Gift Cards, Especially For Restaurants
Keep them for later, when you really need a break. (“Feeling lazy” is not an adequate excuse.) Is your store having a really great sale? No? Your gift card will go a lot further if you can just wait.
Eat Down The Contents Of Your Pantry And Freezer
Got any luxuries in there, already purchased? Feel free to use them up, and feel virtuous, because you’re not wasting them. (Or save them for a special occasion, but only if that time is close by.) Stretch your time as long as possible between grocery trips by buying extra of staples like eggs and milk.
Double-Check Your Accounts
Is everything in good order? Account info accurate?
Take a moment to check that cash you stashed away somewhere, as well. Did you borrow some, and didn’t replace it yet? Make sure you’ve got enough to cover a short-term emergency.
Empty Out Your Coin Jars
Clean out any change in your dresser, by the washer or under the couch cushions. Take the money to your local credit union or bank, and either deposit it, or have them convert it into bills. Suze Orman advocates this as part of her get-your-act-together strategy. It does that…but it also makes you feel wealthier. (I’m not sure why – it just does.)
Start Planning For Your Next Vacation or Trip
Planning, not spending. This gives you time to research the best deals, as well as plan ahead for time off. Look for books on the subject at the library, or watch movies filmed on location. (John Wayne’s A Quiet Man is on our to-watch list, as prep for our trip to Ireland.) Mentally, you can take that trip before you even head out the door.
And it’s better than starting on your taxes. Because that’s next.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com