Are you “Seasonal Stressing” or safely saving?

by Belinda Rosenblum

In the spirit of the holidays, here’s a seasonal entry from the Financial Therapist Dictionary:
“Seasonal Stressing”: (n., condition) frustration resulting from the desire to give holiday gifts beyond your financial ability to do so.

Particularly in these recessionary times, I am not surprised to hear many of you are experiencing some Seasonal Stressing this holiday. The good news is this is a condition that can easily be alleviated with a little re-focus. The holidays will soon be over, along with 2008. Think of the new year as a chance for a new start on your financial future. By committing to a few New Year’s resolutions that you can easily keep, by next year, you’ll have saved all you need for a stress-less holiday season, and give yourself the gift of healthy (and wealthy) money-saving habits.

Resolution #1: Become a savvy saver!

Start by recording all your expenses. Keep a journal for 1 month in which you write down every single payment you make, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. At the end of the month, identify one or two expenses you can easily reduce or live without (perhaps that $5/day latte?). For the rest of the year, take the money you’ve saved and place it in a dedicated savings account. You’ll be surprised at how it adds up!

Resolution #2: Reduce your debt and shore up your credit

Even though new regulations will prevent banks from raising interest rates on existing credit card balances, there has never been a more important time to consolidate and reduce your debt. As you discover what matters most to you and how to save more, you can allocate a portion of your new-found savings to fast-track your credit card debt payoff. Three factors affect the speed at which you can eliminate your balances: interest rate, monthly payment, and total balance. The current crisis is squeezing companies to negotiate down rates to ensure customers can continue to pay. If you continuously only pay the minimum, check the credit card calculator for your payoff timing. You may be shocked! Instead, pay off any lingering credit card balances by sending in extra payments, starting with the card that has the highest interest rate.

Resolution #3: Enjoy yourself responsibly

Don’t give up everything that makes you happy, or you’ll never stick to your savings and debt-reduction plans. You can indulge on a budget by taking advantage of good deals. Love to dine out? Do it on a discount! We’ve partnered with to bring you 80% off restaurant meals. Are you a designer diva? Sign up at to get bi-weekly notifications when items in your size from your beloved brands go on sale. Check on-line for coupons for your favorite store before you head out the door. Wait for a bargain, and treat yourself to that one item you’ll treasure for years.

Resolution #4: Get the support you need

Achieving your resolutions will be easier if your friends and family understand and support your financial goals. Share with them that you’ll be making changes in your life and you need their encouragement. Find a “money buddy” to join you on your new financial path and set “money dates” with yourself (and your partner) to ensure scheduled time to manage your finances and build your wealth. When you need expert advice to deal with a particular problem or develop a strategic plan, let me know; through classes, coaching and clubs, we can help you take the steps that will ensure your success. Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy, wealthy New Year!

You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Belinda Fuchs, CPA and Wealth Coach, is the founder and chief money motivator of and host of Boston’s newest TV talk show “Money On Your Mind.” If you’re ready to make more, save more and stress less about your money, get your FREE money success tips from Belinda now

Originally published on December 2008

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