It's easy to overspend. Here's how to reel things back in.
Oh, January. How we love you and also hate you.
It's so good to have the hubbub from the holidays fading out and a slower pace setting in, but then the bills come. Whether you put holiday spending on credit or are just short on cash from the constant outpour that seems to happen, some strategies for pulling ahead financially could come in handy.
Here are five relatively easy things you could do to generate some cash and dig out faster.
1. Play with some dogs.
If you love dogs and you can have them at your place, why not take in some darling pooches on the weekends or other times when you'll be home? It's work, but it's not work-work (because snuggles!).
Two sites where you can plug and play to get connected to customers looking for dogsitters are Rover.com and Dogvacay.com (some sites include other pets as well!). You can set your own rate based on the market around you (for instance, $40 per night, if that's the going rate) and the companies take a small percentage in return for insuring you and the dog.
2. Consider letting people pay to stay at your place for short stints.
If you're going to be gone for a trip yourself you can spiff the place up and Airbnb it. Or if you have a guest room and can handle being a thoughtful host, you can rent it out while you're home.
Airbnb is a site that lets residents and travelers connect to arrange temporary stays (as an alternative to a pricier hotel, usually). It's not without its risks, but you can screen potential guests by checking reviews from previous hosts they've stayed with. Another site that can connect you with temporary renters is Vacation Rental By Owner, but that's usually for solo access to your pad while you vacate the premises.
3. Have that rummage sale now instead of waiting for the summer.
If you have an accumulation of items you're storing away with the intention of having one big weekend sale, try something different. Facebook features local rummage sale groups in nearly every city, and often the members sell items one at a time. So take a picture, post it, and see if anyone's interested. You could wind up with a cleaner home and extra cash for paying off your cards.
4. Teach a course online if you have a special set of skills to share.
Through Udemy or Skillshare, you can create a course based on skills you are proficient in and enroll online students. Are you able to teach coding, YouTube optimization, marketing basics, or social media strategy? You could be sitting on extra cash you can use to pay off debt!
5. Re-evaluate the level and scope of gifting you do annually.
Giving is so fun! It feels so good to have a little something for people you appreciate in your life. But the truth is, for a lot of us, it's become an unsustainable strain in this economy.
It's not worth it to push ourselves into debt to fulfill what we think we have to do to keep up with expectations.
Does your extended family give every adult family member gifts? Talk with them and let them know you'd rather do a gift exchange.
Consider handmade gifts. It sounds hokey but believe it or not, people often really love getting something so personal — it feels like being part of your real inner circle to get something someone made themselves.
I made jars of preserved lemons last year, and including all supplies, ingredients, and decorative ribbon, it cost me about $30 to have a little gourmet-something to give to about 15 people I wanted to have a gift for.
With a little forethought and planning, you can set yourself up to spend much less next year and stop the cycle of debt.
Go forth, you generous gifter, you. May the winds of financial resourcefulness propel you forward.