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Consumer Watch: Holiday spending rehab

(KOKH/FILE)

Shopping for gifts or treating yourself over the last couple of months could have caused you to develop bad spending habits. As we move past the holidays, the start of the year is a good time to refocus your spending for 2019,

First, know that if you spent more than you meant to for the holidays, you're not the only one. Though it might have come from a good place, it’s not a good habit to hold on to.

“When you are shopping for gifts you rationalize that these expenses are one time, and therefore you spend more than your budget actually allows,” says Andrew Schrage, with Money Crashers.

The reality is that how you spend your money has side effects. and it's not a onetime expense if you put it on your credit card. Money Crashers is a personal finance and financial fitness site, and it says you need a budget for 2019, and your priority should be slashing credit card debt first.

“It is important that you prioritize reducing credit card debt to zero because the interest rates that credit card companies charge their consumers are astronomical,” says Schrage.

Making a ‘wants and needs’ list can help you get out of the spending cycle.

  • Wants-- coffee shop stops and restaurant outings.
  • Needs-- rent and electricity.

Scaling back on some of your regular wants can help you pay off debt faster.

You can also save money on some of your needs. Schrage recommends using coupons on groceries, saving money on your energy bills by changing the thermostat, and saving on your water bill with shorter showers.

Once you get some practice scaling back on all that over spending, it is still important to budget in a treat every once in a while because you should still-- responsibly--- enjoy life.

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