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What’s the cure for holiday credit card hangover?

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So, you had a great holiday season. Your gifts were a big hit and the party was a smashing success.

Now it’s time to pay the piper. Literally.

Right about now lots of people across the country are waking up to a scary reality. They went deep into debt over the holidays. They spent money they didn’t have and now a crushing credit card bill (or bills) is winging its way through the mail or into their inboxes.

If this describes you, we get it. Our advice? Don’t despair. First, take a deep breath. You’re not the only one. And, you can fix this. It’s not easy, or simple, but it is doable.

Once you’ve come to grips with reality, it’s time to start planning. If you haven’t created a budget for yourself, do so now. Figure out what you owe, and how much you can pay toward it each month and still pay your other bills on time. It is essential to stick with your budget no matter what. It’s easy to get distracted over time, but for the sake of your financial health you must stick with the plan.

Next? Don’t take on any new debt. It’s easy to charge things but it’s crucial to put the cards away until you have paid your debt down. Some experts recommend placing credit cards in the freezer until you’re out of debt – a symbolic and literal way to freeze your credit spending.

As a new year begins, we all get the chance for a fresh start. If you did go into debt over the holidays, use it as a lesson for 2017. Keep in mind three sensible steps to take to stay out of debt:


 

  • Always use your card(s) wisely. If you don’t have the cash to pay for it on the spot, then don’t buy it.
  • Always pay your balance on time and in full. It’s amazing how quickly late charges and other fees pile up.
  • Consolidate your credit debt into a single, manageable payment.

And, always remember that “want” is very different from “need.” When you look at a purchase from that perspective, you can often see it isn’t a necessity after all.

Here’s to a debt-free 2017!