Between socializing, travel and gift shopping, the holidays can take a toll on your spending habits, and getting back into your usual routine can be a bit of a challenge. If you need a little push to save up, pay off your bills and be a little less spendy, here are some strategies that can help.
Check in with all of your accounts
First thing's first: you're going to need a strategy. Check all of your accounts and credit cards and look at your typical spending habits. How much do you need to set aside to pay off any credit card bills or replenish any savings you may have spent? Once you know how much you owe, you can figure out where in your normal spending you can make some sacrifices, and you can make a plan to see how long it'll take you to pay everything off and get back to your normal frugal state.
Stock the fridge with groceries
One of the easiest ways to save money is to stop going out to eat and buying your lunch at work. Instead, stock up on groceries, and use up any leftovers to your advantage. And if you're worried about the time commitment, you don't have to cook every day—you can cook meals in bulk and eat them for a few days, and take leftovers to work for lunch. You can also freeze meals to enjoy at a later date.
Hold on to gift cards
Did you hit the gift card jackpot this holiday season? It's tempting to run to your favorite stores and spend them, but doing so will also make you much more likely to spend your actual money, too. Rather than rushing off to the mall, hold on to your gift cards for a little while—they'll still be there in a few months, and you'll be able to make thoughtful purchases with them.
Invite people over to socialize
Just because you're living on a tighter budget doesn't mean you can't continue to spend time with friends, it just means you should be a little more thoughtful about how you socialize. Going out to big dinners or bar-hopping can add up, so try inviting friends over more often. You can make use of things you already have (especially after the holidays, if you've been gifted wine or liquor) and you'll spend far less on food if you cook dinner and stick to simple but tasty snacks.
If you ban all extraneous purchases—especially after a month of buying gifts and splurging—you might have a hard time sticking to your plan. But, if you allow yourself to splurge selectively by letting yourself make the occasional fun (but small!) purchase, you'll be less likely to want to make a bigger unnecessary buy. Give yourself a few allowances or at least a little wiggle room so that your new frugal financial plan doesn't feel too restrictive, and sticking with it will feel a lot easier.