Now that the holidays have come and gone, the credit card bills will soon start arriving. If opening up your credit card statements leaves you shocked, don’t panic—planning and a little self-discipline will help you keep on top of tackling your post-holiday debt. With statements and your New Year’s budget in hand, you can get to work and start paying off your bills.
Open Your Mail and Keep Your Statements
Although it’s a lot more fun to open holiday cards and greetings, it’s essential that you open and keep your holiday credit card statements. You may be tempted to stuff unopened bills into the nearest drawer, but don’t do it. A missed credit card payment adds late fees to interest, increasing the total amount you need to pay back.
Also, giving quick attention to your credit card bills will help you keep your payment history clean. Just one missed payment can hurt your credit score.
Focus Your Resources on Debt Reduction
Post-holiday debt reduction is probably not you favorite subject, but a good plan to pay down your holiday spending is the best thing you can do for yourself and your budget. Let your credit cards cool off by putting them away and not using them. Then, try these simple steps that will help you tackle your debt and get it paid off:
- Add up all of your holiday debt and write down the total.
- Pay more than the minimum payment—as much as your budget will allow.
- Examine your monthly statement and keep track of your progress.
If you used several cards to do your holiday shopping, it may be difficult to pay them all off. With each card charging you interest and requiring a minimum payment, you might want to consider consolidating your debt. By transferring your smaller credit card balances onto just one card, you can focus all of your financial resources onto just one bill and one monthly payment.
Don’t Overlook Returns
Like most holiday shoppers, there’s a good chance you have an un-mailed gift or unused holiday decoration sitting around. Returning your unused purchases gives you a credit and reduces the amount of your bill. Even if you don’t have a receipt, don’t hesitate to return items you won’t be using. An in-store credit can be used for other essentials, freeing up cash for debt reduction.
Know When to Call a Professional
Your holiday shopping may have added to a debt burden that was already difficult to manage. If your credit card bills are impossible to pay on time, let your creditors know. Your credit card company may be willing to work out an arrangement that will help you make your payments.
If your creditors are unable to help, seek the help of a licensed financial counselor or licensed insolvency trustee. Quick action can save you lots of worry and money.
Although your post-holiday debt may leave you feeling down, these tips—plus a little determination and self-discipline—can help you pay them off quickly.