How to Tackle Post-Holiday Debt

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Managing holiday expenses can help contribute to a debt-free lifestyle.

You might have done a little damage to your wallet during the holiday season, but don’t fret, there are ways you can tackle your post-holiday debt that are realistic and worth trying.

Here are some strategies to help you get started.

Review your finances

Take a look at your overall finances and consider setting short- and long-term goals to tackle your debt. You can start by obtaining a free copy of your credit report on annualcreditreport.com from each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). Consider making a list of all of your debts (secure and unsecure) and devise a plan on how to get it down. Since you might have been using your credit cards often during holiday shopping, be sure to check your credit report for any irregularities. Fraud and identity theft can be high during the holiday season.

While you are checking your credit report, you might want to also check your credit score. If you are using more than 30% of your credit cards, you might see a slight drop in your score post-holiday season. Don’t fret, your credit score is just a number and can change often.

Avoid spending money

Try and put yourself on a “financial diet” after the holidays. Focus on your post-holiday debt instead of spending frivolously. Consider only spending money on essential expenses and use coupons when you can. If you make a few changes to your lifestyle – bringing the exact cash to the grocery store that you need or bringing a bagged-lunch to work – you will see improvement in your overall financial health. You will also adapt to these new habits and boost your cash flow. If you think you have a problem with impulse buying or you find yourself in deep debt, then you might want to consult with a debt attorney to help you better manage your money and budget properly.

Set goals & make a Plan

Establish a payment strategy that works best to tackle your post-holiday debt. Ask yourself what your short- and long-term goals are. You might be looking to save up for a wedding or pay down your student loans. Consider paying more than the minimum and making biweekly payments to help tackle your debt more efficiently. If you think you won’t be able to tackle your debt all at once, then focus on the highest-interest rate debt first before you tackle the rest.

Start planning for 2017 holiday shopping

Paying down your post-holiday debt can be a stressful time. Why not devise a plan for next year so you don’t fall into the same situation again. No matter how much post-holiday debt you have, no debt at all might be a better scenario. After you have paid down your debt, consider going over how you plan to holiday shop the next time around. You might want to create a holiday spending fund and start putting aside money over the summer or early fall. Contributing a little each month can go a long way.

Rather than feeling depressed about your credit card balances and your bank account, why not devise a plan to tackle your debt effectively and efficiently! This may be a little stressful, but if you follow a budget and stay motivated, you will see your post-holiday debt gone before you know it. Do you have post-holiday debt? How are you paying it off? Share your comments below.

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