Get back on track after the holiday shopping debt hangover

Get back on track after the holiday shopping debt hangover

(WWBT) - Are you afraid to look at the credit card bills that are just coming in now from your holiday shopping?

A new survey found 65 percent of Americans set a holiday budget this year, but 77 percent blew right through it by spending too much on gifts.

Now, that the shopping season has died down, it's the perfect time to get back on track.

The first thing to do is make a list of who and what you owe, and prioritize the debts with the highest interest rates, because they will be more costly the longer they go unpaid.

Your next move is to free up as much money as possible to pay that debt down fast and avoid costly interest charges.

If you received any unwanted gift cards, they can be as good as cash on a resale site like Gift Card Granny.

That cash can then be used to pay down a credit card.

Eating out can be much more costly than cooking at home, so a few more dinners in the family dining room rather than at a restaurant can free up some extra money.

If you have any paid memberships you can do without, cancel them and use that money to pay off the debt. Once the debt is covered, the membership can be restarted.

But above all else, resist the urge to add more debt on top of what you already have. Stores are likely to offer sales this time of year to give themselves a boost during the slow shopping times, and not getting sucked in by a deal will go along way to getting out from under those credit cards.

If you have the money to buy a new set of clothes or something else you come across on the sales rack, that is money that could be going to reducing your debt.

Another good idea is to not wait until the credit card bill comes at end of the month. If you have a few dollars to pay on it, log in online and make a payment whenever you can. That keeps the interest charge from being quite so high when that bill does arrive.

That's a good habit to get into not just with debt payments, but with saving money as well.

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