As the year draws to a close and holiday shopping is (almost) out of the way, you may be looking at a depleted bank account. Taking these last few weeks of the year to cut back on spending could put you in a better financial position come New Year's. I like to do a quick financial checkup in the middle of December to make sure my budget is still on track, and take care of any outlying expenses or bills well before the year ends. Saving a few dollars here will add up in a few short weeks.
Here are five ways you can trim your budget before the New Year unfolds:
- Be smart with leftovers. The season of feasting means you probably have plenty of leftovers from all those holiday meals. Be creative with creating new meals from these and freeze them so you always have something on hand. Saving money on eating out - even for a few weeks - could help you keep that budget balanced.
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Make a list of all subscriptions you currently have and make this the month to cancel the extras. December is a great time to review your spending habits for the year anyway. Take the time to see what "extras" you're still paying for and make a commitment to get rid of these extra expenses before the New Year begins.
- Be wary of last-minute deals. If you're still under pressure to fill that gift list at the last minute, make sure you really are getting a great deal. Don't believe the hype around Christmas sales and last-minute offers until you've taken the time to comparison shop. Seek out the best price so you don't end up spending more than you need to.
- Scale back on entertainment and travel costs. You're probably already attending plenty of holiday events and gatherings this month, so scale back on movie nights and mini vacations to save some money. Cutting out a few trips to the movie theater or eliminating the cost of movie rentals can help you save up to $50 or more this month. Pick up free DVDs from the library and use sites like Hulu.com to watch your favorite TV episodes and older movies at no extra cost.
- Pay all bills ahead of schedule. Avoid costly late fees and penalties by making sure all your bills are paid before January 1. Get ahead if you can so you don't even need to stress about bills around the busy holiday week.
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