Instead of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” you might have transitioned to “It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday gift debt.”
You know all those warm, fuzzy feelings that come from buying presents for others, and seeing the smiles on their faces when they open those gifts?
Those feelings might now be replaced by the stress and angst of opening up credit card statements following holiday shopping binges.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be all bad, as long as you work on proper debt management.
Here are five ways to help deal with any holiday credit card debt, either now or in the future.
1. Come up with a payment strategy.
Trying to pay off any debt over a 90-day period so it is taken care of by April is one effective strategy, according to the New York Times.
If you have multiple credit cards, decide whether it’s best to first pay off the one with the smallest balance to give yourself a sense of accomplishment, or the higher-interest one to save more money.
Making multiple credit card payments each month is also a viable way to pay down debt.
2. Make modifications to your monthly budget.
There are several small ways to do this that ultimately add up, according to Consumer Reports.
Whether it’s eating out less, trying to give up a bad habit that is expensive, unplugging appliances or turning down heat to save on utility bills, or even searching for cheaper car insurance, there are plenty of options to save money that can be used to pay off credit card debt from the holidays.
3. Use tax refunds or a portion of 401(k) contributions.
Contributing less to a work 401(k) plan can free up some money that can be used to pay down any credit card debt from December.
For example, instead of contributing 3% of your income, do 1% until your debt is paid off, then go back to 3%.
Using tax refund money is another option, although that will mean not using that money on a special purchase or vacation.
4. Get creative to pull in extra income.
With all the new stuff bought or given over the holidays, that must mean there are some old things headed to the basement or attic that won’t be used anymore. Well, how about trying to sell those things on social media or to a store?
Taking on a temporary part-time job, such as driving an Uber or finding freelance work, can be other ways to make some extra cash that can be directed toward debt repayment.
The least desirable option might involve borrowing money from a family member or friend, but at least if it came to that, there likely wouldn’t be any interest charged. However, be sure to honor your commitment to pay back that debt or else the relationship with that person might be damaged.
5. Start saving now for next year’s holiday shopping.
What a great way to exhibit forward thinking and get ahead of the game, according to an article on firstalliancecu.com.
To avoid having stress at this time next year, simply start putting away a little money that can be used toward next year’s holiday shopping ventures.
It might not seem like much now to put aside $10 or so every paycheck, but by December, that will add up to hundreds of dollars.
This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.