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How To Recover From Holiday Debt

Posted By:  |  January 30, 2018  |  0 Comment(s)

It’s now the end of January, and in mailboxes across America, credit card bills from the holidays are arriving. January statements tend to be the largest ones of the year due to the expenses of the season like gifts, flights, hotels, food, gasoline, and the other little expenses that tend to pop up around the holidays. In fact, according to research done by Magnify Money, American shoppers who went into debt over the holidays added an average $1,054 of debt, an increase of 5 percent from last year. That’s a lot of stocking stuffers!

Debt can seem overwhelming, especially if the debt is found on high-interest credit cards. Of the consumers surveyed, almost 40 percent of them said they anticipated it taking well over five months to recover from the holiday binge. We here at want to make sure it doesn’t take that long and that you don’t find yourself in the same position next year. From paying off debt to learning to pick the right stock, here’s our list of the top six things to do to conquer that holiday debt. 

1. Be committed to paying down the debt

This can seem trivial, but if you want to get rid of your holiday debt, you need to convince yourself that you want to get rid of your holiday debt. You also need to convince yourself that you badly want to get rid of your holiday debt. This will make it easier to say no when presented with an opportunity to make a frivolous purchase.

2. Refrain from Frivolous Purchases

Many purchases we make on a day-to-day basis are actually non-essential items. Learn to recognize which purchases can be eliminated or made more intelligently and make a plan to stick to this “financial diet” until your holiday debt is gone.

Some examples include carpooling to work or riding a bike. You could also bring leftovers for lunch instead of going out to eat. Make coffee at home and use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones. Simple lifestyle changes like these add up to big numbers over the course of a few months.

Take advantage of free leisure activities. Take the kids to a park or free local community event instead of spending money on movie tickets and concessions.

Of course, these changes are only beneficial if you take the money that you saved from cutting back and put it towards paying down your debt.

3. Start with the highest interest debt first

You should be making the minimum payment on all of your debts, but any extra cash you have should be used towards paying down your highest interest payment. Then, once that’s taken care of, take the same monthly amount you were paying on the first debt and add it to the minimum payment of your next-highest interest payment, and so forth.

4. Have a yard sale

Ok, you don’t have to organize an actual yard sale, but the concept is the same. Go through your closets and garage and find things that you don’t use anymore and list them on Craigslist or eBay. Also, evaluate the gifts you received during the holidays and assess if you really will use them or if you can return them and use the money towards your debt.

One thing to remember when posting items on Craigslist is to price items to sell. If you price items too high, not only will you have to keep reposting the listing after it expires without selling, but you will also have to be constantly negotiating with potential buyers and being let down when they find a better deal elsewhere. Price your items to sell; you don’t use them anymore and getting it out of the house in exchange for cash is a win-win.

5. Learn to trade

You may not be an expert right now, but trading stock can pay off big time in the long run. As a basic rule of thumb for starting out, picking a stock comes down to which you think might outperform its market. One strategy that most people start out trying is market timing or the attempted prediction of market dips, but that can be incredibly difficult when you add in the emotion of possibly making more money. Research and learn alternative strategies for picking the right stock.

6. Prepare for next year

If you found yourself in holiday debt last year, chances are you won’t want to end up in the same position this year. We recommend setting aside money now into a special “holiday fund” that you can use for gifts and holiday expenses this holiday season. Even just $20 per week ends up being over $1,000. With interest, it would be more than the average amount of holiday debt of $1,054 mentioned earlier.

The holidays should be a happy, stress-free time spent with family and friends. If you find that you’re currently in holiday debt, follow these steps and work hard this year to get rid of that debt and build up a holiday savings account that you can use to avoid the same stressful situation next year.


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