Consumer & Money-Saving Expert
The symptoms are familiar: nausea, regret, and a pounding headache. While these feelings can be attributed to any late night on the town, they can also be the result of overindulgent holiday spending. If looking at the balance of your credit card statement leads to one or more of these symptoms, you’re likely suffering from a holiday debt hangover.
Face your debt. It’s easy to ignore your credit card and debt and pretend they don’t exist. However, the longer you avoid your problems, the worse your financial situation will become. Begin dealing with your debt by organizing your financial accounts and statements to determine how much money you actually accumulated on your credit and store cards over the holidays. Note the balance and interest rates for each card and set up the minimum payments now to pay on time and avoid potential late fees.
Boost your budget. Before your credit card comes due, start looking for ways to replenish your bank account now. You likely received cash during the holiday season, either in the form of a gift or work bonus. Deposit what you can and treat yourself after you’ve paid down any debt. If you received gift cards you don’t plan on using, sell them for cash on sites like Gift Card Granny to get up to 92-percent back. You can also sell items around your home you no longer use. For example, get cash for old gadgets like smartphones and video games from sites like Gazelle and NextWorth, and sell gently-used clothes at Recycleyourfashion.
Go on a spending diet. Limit buying to essentials — food, bills, gas, etc. — and avoid discretionary spending until your credit card balances are paid off. You likely received plenty of new things during the holiday season, so these should keep you well occupied and satisfied in the interim of paying down your debt. Identify your spending triggers and avoid them at all costs .
Set realistic repayment goals. Paying down debt takes time and without a plan, you can get lost and lose focus easily. Don’t set yourself for failure with unrealistic goals. be realistic about what you can afford to put towards debt every month and include the various steps you will need to take along the way to be successful and pay down your debt faster.
Track progress with tech tools. Track financial accounts to visualize progress and stay motivated. Tech tools can help! Check Credit Karma to understand your current credit score and find ways to manage your debt. Use one of several debt reduction apps like ReadyforZero to help you monitor and stay on top of your progress.