Friday Five: Cures for Your Holiday Spending Hangover

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Today on the Veitengruber Law Blog, we bring you another Friday Five. Our topic this Friday is getting out from under all of the debt that you may have acquired during the recent holiday season. Let’s face it: every year we vow to spend less next year, but when “next year” rolls around, it’s very difficult to resist showering our friends and family with prodigious piles of presents!

It’s great fun watching the excited expressions on our gift recipients’ faces, but come January, our own features scrunch into scowl lines and frowns as the credit card bills arrive in the mailbox. Rather than simply paying the minimum balances due and hitting the mental “Ignore” button, here are five proactive things you can do to pay off your holiday debt sooner rather than later:

  1. Suspend your spending: This has to be priority numero uno. Until you’ve paid your holiday credit card balances off, spend money only on necessities. Remember all of the gifts your friends and family showered you with, and enjoy them instead of buying more “stuff.” If it helps, set a goal and reward yourself: as soon as your holiday debt is gone, you can buy yourself something you’ve been coveting (within reason).

  2. Cut up your cards: For many people, getting those credit cards out of sight is imperative. If you really don’t trust yourself not to use them, by all means, cut them up and get back to using real money only. You might also benefit from simply taking the card(s) out of your wallet and putting them someplace safe in your house. This way, you’ll still have them if an emergency situation arises, but you won’t be able to make in-store impulse purchases.

  3. Make molehills out of mountains: In other words, focus on the card with the highest interest rate first. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll end up owing on that balance, so it’s best to get it as low as you can, and quickly. Keep paying the minimum amounts due on any other cards while you tackle them in order of their interest rates.

  4. Return and be refunded: It may not be the most socially acceptable thing to do, but if you were gifted anything that you simply don’t like or won’t use – find out if you can return it! Even if the gift-giver didn’t include a receipt, you can often find out where an item was purchased, in which case many stores will give you gift cards rather than cash. Use these gift cards to buy things you need, which will free up more of your money for paying down your credit card balances.

  5. Bang out a budget: While it may seem like common sense, it’s often the simplest ideas that succeed. As you get close to paying off last year’s holiday spending debt, look ahead to the next holiday season. Something as easy as buying one gift card every time you get paid can make a big difference. (And who doesn’t like receiving gift cards these days?)

By putting these five simple tips into action, you will be able to get your holiday debt paid off in a reasonable amount of time, freeing up that money for living life! Planning ahead will mean that next year at this time, you’ll hopefully be able to pay off your holiday spending in a much shorter time frame.

Image credit: Quint Cobb
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One Response to Friday Five: Cures for Your Holiday Spending Hangover

  1. Pingback: Can I Pay Off Debt and Build Savings at the Same Time? | Veitengruber Law

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