GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Whether it's travel, gifts or final medical bills, you may be feeling a financial pinch post holiday. But Dr. Cathy McCrary, a certified public accountant and assistant professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, said there are ways to get on track for the new year.
"We want to be healthy physically, we want to be healthy mentally and emotionally, and we want to be healthy in our finances as well," McCrary told 11Alive.
She added that the way to start is by first reviewing your expenses, evaluating what you spend and where.
"The better look you can get at how you really do spend, the better you can plan for the future and create a budget that's realistic," McCrary said. "Because all a budget is, is a plan."
Once you know your resources and habits, McCrary said it is easier to see if there are ways to adjust spending. Whether it's cutting out an extra coffee run once a week or closing the streaming service you really don't use, the savings can add up and help in the long run for the unexpected.
"You might see some opportunities to cut back, so that you can have some cushion for those unexpected emergencies," she said.
McCrary also said to keep in mind that while debt can be uncomfortable, it isn't inherently good or bad. Some types of debt help build credit, in turn helping you qualify for loans or housing. But avoid taking on what you can't pay back, and watch for high interest rates.
"What you don't want is to overextend yourself," she explained.
If just thinking about finances feels overwhelming, McCrary advises starting small, and let your goals guide you.
"One of the main motivations is to keep your endgame in mind," McCrary said. "Write down the position that you want to be in and then pick out and write out some steps as to how you can get there."
"The key is baby steps," she concluded.