Holiday debt. After the gift frenzy and party frenzy become a haze....and tax time documents start rolling into our mailboxes, we sit in the harsh cold light of both January, and holiday debt.
Our Associate Partners at Money One Federal Credit Union have some gentle words of advice, should you find yourself with the ghost of purchases past:
" Did you go a little crazy with holiday shopping last year? You’re not alone. Reportedly, retail sales were expected to top $680 billion dollars during the 2017 holiday season.
It’s hard to resist the temptation to over-spend when buying gifts for your family and friends, especially when so many retailers offer their deepest discounts of the year. So if you find yourself suddenly buried under a mound of credit card debt, here’s how to dig yourself out:
1. Add up your seasonal costs The first step is to simply calculate the exact amount of your holiday debt. This is helpful for a couple reasons. For starters, you need to know your target number so that you can make a plan for repayment.
But it also lets you establish a limit for 2018’s seasonal spending. Provided that your budget is the same for this year’s holidays, you can either make a plan to save more or spend less on gifts than you did in 2017.
2. Tackle higher-interest debt first Not all debt is created equal. You’ll pay more in the long run on credit cards with higher interest than on lower-rate cards. So rather than splitting your repayments evenly across your accounts, make the more expensive cards your priority. Otherwise, your holiday purchases will weigh you down well into the new year.
3. Re-organize your budget If you’re struggling to get ahead of your seasonal debt, you may need to take a long, hard look at your budget (and if you’ve never made a budget, the beginning of the year is a great time to start!). Can you eat out less? Make coffee at home instead of buying it every day? Identify areas where you can save and apply the extra money towards the costs of those holiday purchases. "
You may not be in this bind- but you may know a younger person who is. You may have younger employees who would not discuss this issue, but may need guidance in this direction. Please share Money One's advice, as appropriate.
Grant Shmelzer Executive Director IEC Chesapeake