Christmas can’t come quickly enough for some people’s bank accounts. Between teacher gifts, hostess presents and last-minute additions to the holiday menu, you may find your already stretched budget is bursting at the seams.
While overspending is never ideal, shoppers who go overboard are in good company. James Capolongo, head of consumer deposit products at TD Bank, estimates people regularly exceed their holiday budget by anywhere from 20 to 40 percent. “Don’t beat yourself up,” he says. “It happens.”
Rather than feeling depressed about the state of your bank account, finance experts suggest you do the following things instead:
[See: 10 Classic (and Unique) Retirement Gift Ideas.]
Curb your shopping. If you’ve been shopping with abandon and still have more to buy, it’s time to hit the pause button. Vince Liuzzi, executive vice president and chief banking officer for DNB First, advises people to tally up their spending, see what’s left in their budget and go from there.
That may mean eliminating some purchases. “When it comes to spending, I like to ask: ‘Is it nice or is it really necessary?'” Liuzzi says. While gifts for service workers, extended family and casual acquaintances can add to the holiday spirit, they may need to be scrapped if you’ve already overspent your budget.
For those gifts you deem necessary, it may be time to get creative, says Jon Ulin, managing principal of Ulin & Co. Wealth Management in Boca Raton, Florida. Making a gift or splitting a purchase with someone else are both options. If you’re reluctant to scale back, “Think about how this will lead financially into the new year,” Ulin says.
[Read: 6 Easy Resolutions for a Frugal New Year.]
Assess the situation. Once the holiday season has passed, it’s time to take a closer look at the damage, regroup and recommit to your financial goals. “Use that January to reassess what you want to accomplish,” Capolongo says.
While it may be tempting to tap into any available pot of money to wipe out holiday debt, including emergency and retirement funds, doing so could have long-term negative repercussions. “I would never want to advise anyone to make any undue or rash decision without consulting with a planner or banker,” Capolongo says. A financial professional can also help you evaluate whether options such as debt consolidation may be right for you.