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48 million Americans still have holiday debt from 2018, study says

Nobody wants to start 2020 with debt, but for some people that is just the reality. Here are some tips to make sure that you end the year better than you started it.

WASHINGTON — According to a study by Nerd Wallet, 48 million Americans still have holiday debt from 2018. 

Finance coach, Wilson Muscadin has some tips to make sure that's not you at the end of 2020. 

Tip 1: Starting a holiday 2020 savings account in January

The average American spends $1000 on holiday gifts. If you contribute $50 a month from January through October you will have saved $1,000. 

That means you can pay for those gifts in cash instead of charging them and paying interest on those purchases. What started off as $1,000 can add up to so much more very quickly. 

Tip 2: Think of budgeting as a skill, not a task.

A task is something you put on a to-do list, a mindless activity that you can just check off. A skill, on the other hand, is something that you develop overtime. If you treat managing your money like a skill, like learning a language, then you're more likely to stick with it and keep trying. 

"You might not be great a budgeting the first month, but you keep doing it and doing it and you're going to get better," Muscadin said. "You can see a great improvement in just a short amount of time." 

Tip 3: Know your monthly net income

If you're new to budgeting, knowing your net income is a great place to start. Net income is what you bring in each month minus what you spend. Seems like a simple thing to keep track of, right? Well many people carry credit balances from month to month, which means they're usually starting off the next month with a net negative. 

Tip 4: Have more cash reserves for 2020 

So many factors can influence your personal budget. Globally, things like Brexit can influence the stock market, which can impact your net income. Domestically, the impeachment proceedings and the 2020 election could cause the market to be more volatile. Either way, you want to make sure that you have at least one month of your expenses on reserve in cash, just in case. 

RELATED: Survey: More than half of American workers say they are behind in saving for retirement

Tip 5: Analyze your discretionary income

Parents have drilled into our heads that money doesn't grow on trees, so how are we going to magically have more cash in our reserves for 2020? Analyzing your discretionary income is a great place to start. Expenses like going out to eat and buying clothing should be reassessed. Do you really need the third pair of black booties or new Nike shoes? Probably not. Before you swipe that card or hand over that cash, think about how it impacts your net income. If you have to go into the red in order to buy it, It's probably not worth it. 

RELATED: Here's how to save more money this holiday season

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