January- probably the most hated month, am I right? The holidays are over, bitter temperatures have settled in, and it seems like no amount of vitamins can keep you from getting sick. Even worse, all of those Christmas bills are taking revenge on your pocket book.
Now, three months ago while you were taking advantage of the unusually warm weather and perusing every store in town for the perfect gift, the thought of all those bills was out of sight, out of mind. Who can blame you? You were the hero/heroine of Christmas with that tricked out Keurig and iPad in tow.
Today? Well, the “thank yous” and Christmas bark are long gone, and now the bills are rearing their ugly heads.
You’re Not Alone
Did you know that this past Christmas, consumers spent more than they did in 2014 despite smaller paychecks? Also, after dishing out on the perfect gift, more than half of the entire U.S. population has $1,000 or less left in their checking and savings accounts. So, if the pressure of those bills has got you feeling shortsighted, know you’re not alone in this.
While a little confidence booster is all nice and dandy, we know you need some practical steps to beat the bills. Here’s some advice:
- Stop ignoring the debt. If anxiety has been building in proportion to the bills, you’ve got to let it out. Sit down with a spouse, family member, or friend and talk through your concerns. Often, they’ll have useful advice or feedback to offer, and if nothing else, it’s a great way to vent.
- Cut your credit cards. Once you start digging the credit hole, it’s hard to get out. Sometimes though, you’ve just got to stop cold turkey. Sure, it’ll be hard at first, but if you power through successfully, you’ll be on your way to building back those accounts.
- Make a budget. Cutting the cards won’t do much good if all that hard earned money still seems to disappear. Take some time to organize your finances, cut unnecessary costs, and plan out your expenditures.
What About Next Year?
You’ve got some practical steps to start tackling those bills but wonder, so what? ‘Next January, I’ll be in the same situation.’
Guess what? This doesn’t have to be the case. Get this, at OECU we have something called a Christmas Club Savings Account. Here’s how it works:
- Contact a Member Service Rep and let them know you’d like to open a Christmas Club Account
- Make a deposit of $25
- After your initial deposit, you can deposit any amount at any time—or set up payroll deduction or direct deposit!
- From October 1—December 31, you can withdraw your savings from this account with no fee
- If you make an early withdrawal (before October 1) you will be charged a withdrawal fee of $10 for each transaction.
When you sit down to make that budget, it’s as easy allotting a little each month to your Christmas Club Account. Think about it, if you start depositing now, $50 a month deposits will give you $550 in December or $100 a month will give you $1100!
Really, it’s that easy. So, pull yourself out of that debt slump, save smart for next year and open that Christmas Club Savings Account! You’ve got this.
— Kara Kliewer