As the chaos of the holiday season subsides and you have more time to reflect on the last few weeks, you may discover that you went overboard on spending. If your bank account is suffering, it’s time to take action against your holiday debt.
Unfortunately, 17% of consumers will carry holiday debt for several months into the New Year. Don’t be part of this statistic! Follow these steps to remedy your holiday budget blues and pay off your debt as early as possible in 2017.
If you used multiple credit cards and store cards this holiday season, begin by reviewing all of your accounts to understand just how much you owe. Get organized by recording your balance for each account in a spreadsheet, along with the corresponding interest rate.
When creating your repayment plan, determine whether the snowball method or the avalanche method of paying off debt works best for you. The snowball method focuses your funds on the smallest balances first, so you can create momentum by paying off cards. The avalanche method targets cards with the highest APR so you save more money over time.
Automate payments to each account so you never miss the due date; otherwise, your debt will end up costing you more in late fees and growing interest. When possible, double or triple the minimum payments to dig yourself out of debt faster.
Go on a spending diet to eliminate any unnecessary spending and luxury services like household cleaning to find extra room in your budget for paying down debt. You can also use tools like Trim to help you find and cancel recurring memberships that you no longer need. Put the money you would’ve spent directly toward your credit card bills.
No matter how much you try to cut back, there will be plenty of purchases you’ll still have to make. When shopping for necessities like groceries, cleaning supplies or clothes for your growing kids, look for ways to save by shopping used, comparing prices and using coupons. Tools like CouponSherpa.com give you access to such deals as 20% off with a JCPenney coupon so you never a miss extra savings opportunities. Every time you save, transfer the extra money to your credit card bills.
With all your credit card swiping this past holiday season, you likely earned tons of rewards. Review your cards to determine the best redemption options, whether miles for gift cards or cash back in the form of credit to your account. You can use gift cards to help cover monthly expenses like groceries, fuel or for gifts to upcoming events. Again, use the money you save with gift cards to put towards your holiday debts.
If you feel tight on funds between all the bills you have to pay, look for ways to boost your budget so you can pay down debt faster. You can sell unwanted items found around your home or return or sell gifts you don’t want.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information about booking an interview or requesting an original written article. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.