Are you suffering from post-holiday debt regret?
It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of holiday shopping, gift giving and entertainment, and it's easy to whip out your credit cards to pay for it all. But now that the season has passed, the gifts are put away and the bills are starting to flood in, you may wish that you had exercised a little more spending restraint.
You're probably suffering from debt regret if you are:
The cure for debt regret is simple, but it can be hard to do. You need to pay off your bills as quickly as you can, and that's going to require cutting your spending or finding ways to bring in additional cash.
Start by living within your means and giving your credit card a rest--pay cash for all your purchases. Cut back or eliminate some extras like your daily latte, take-out meals, movies or new clothes. (The savings do add up quickly.)
You might be able to get a part time job or take on some other work on the side (babysitting, dog walking, shoveling snow, etc.). You can get some cash to apply to your debt by selling items that you don't want on eBay, craigslist or at a consignment shop. If you get a tax refund, use it to pay down your debt. If you received money as a holiday gift, consider using it to pay down your debt; being stress-free is a wonderful gift!
Earmark all the money you save or earn for your debt reduction program.
Once you've decided to deal with your debt regret, you have a few options. Financial experts suggest taking either of these approaches:
You may also want to consider transferring your balances on high interest credit cards to low interest credit cards, and then using one of the two approaches above to reduce your debt. Be sure to read the transfer agreement carefully to check for additional fees or charges that could end up putting you deeper in debt.
No matter which approach you choose, remember to keep making the minimum payments on any other credit cards that you have to maintain your credit rating.
Once you've gotten a handle on your debt from the last holiday, plan ahead to ensure that you won't face the same situation next year. Make a budget and start putting money aside right now for the coming holiday. Resolve to limit your spending at that time to whatever amount you've managed to save throughout the year.
Start your holiday shopping months early. If you pick up items on sale for people on your gift list throughout the year, you'll be less tempted to overspend when the holiday season comes around.
Holidays can be a happy time, but you'll enjoy them even more next year if you know that you won't be facing regrets over debt once they're over.