How to Pay Off Holiday Credit Card Debt QuicklyPosted on: January 24, 2020
You’re now looking at your bank statements and credit card bills with wide eyes, and the amount of cash you’ve blown this past December is finally starting to sink in. It gets you wondering: What can I do to pay off holiday credit card debt quickly?
It can be very scary to go into the New Year with a hefty credit card debt weighing over your shoulder. For too many of us, the cycle of credit card debt starts in the holiday season and it’s the type of debt that’s difficult to recover from. When you only make the minimum payments and the interest charges continue to increase over time, it will take much, much longer to pay it off and you could end up paying triple what you originally paid for the item that you bought. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear of people who are still paying down holiday credit card debt two or three years later, says Jeffrey F. Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
It’s all too easy to go overboard during the holidays – just dip into your credit card, enter its numbers at the checkout and you’ve got your purchase done. The ease of credit availability is why Canadians, particularly millennials, love to use credit cards during the holidays.
Over a third of Canadian millennials expect to go into debt this holiday season, according to a survey from Credit Karma. Add to this, 62% of Canadian millennials will rack up more than $500 in debt over the holidays with most of them planning to do this with credit cards, and some by using personal loans.
Those surveyed also said that it would likely take them five months or more to pay the debt off. Only 42% of shoppers said they would pay off that debt in three months or less.
“What we’ve seen in Canada over the last year and a little bit is that Canadians are having a tough time meeting their obligations on their credit card…recent research by financial institutions indicates almost half a million Canadians are behind in their credit card payments by 90 days or more,” says Schwartz.
If you’ve acquired a post-holiday debt problem, what you can do now is make a commitment to pay off holiday credit card debt quickly so you can become financially healthy in the new year.
Here’s how you can do it:
Audit your credit card debt
A crucial first step to do is to add up all your expenses including the interest rates to know the exact total debt you now need to pay off. Thinking it’s “around” a certain number is not going to help you understand how much you spent and make an exact plan to pay it off.
Once you’ve taken a look at the numbers, make sure you take the time to identify the root cause of why you’ve accumulated so much credit card debt over the holiday season. Don’t stress over it, don’t wallow in guilt over it, because there’s no point beating yourself for taking on debt. Accept the fact that debt happened, and you’re handling it and looking for resources to help you move forward.
Make a realistic debt payment plan
If you have a small amount of holiday-related debt you will need to make sure to pay it all off in January. If possible knock all your holiday debt out quickly in a month or two, three months at the most. If it will take any longer than this, it’s time to create a realistic plan to eliminate the debt as quickly as possible. Paying down holiday debt in two or three years isn’t worth the unease and sleepless nights. If you’re going to pay just the minimum monthly payment, you’re never going to get out of debt. And, it’s also not realistic to altogether stop spending for the duration of your debt repayment, especially if it’s going to take longer than a month or two.
A realistic debt payment plan takes into account that in real life you will spend for things like the occasional coffee or takeout order, and so you will need to factor this in on what you expect to spend in a normal month including fixed costs for your housing expenses, food, and bills plus your current savings and debt payments.
The difference between paying your holiday credit card debt off in three to six months and in two years can be huge, and so the aim is to zero out the debt as quickly as possible. Make more than the minimum payment wherever possible. If the minimum amount is all you can afford now, then pay that. Don’t stop paying, or you’ll get into deeper debt trouble. Focus on paying off your most expensive debt first, which is the one with the highest interest rate, and then move on to the one with the next highest interest rate and so forth until your debt has gone down. Consider if a balance transfer credit card might be a good move in helping you curtail holiday credit card debt. A debt consolidation loan can also be an option if it can result in lowering your interest rates.
Ask for help
Don’t be ashamed to discuss your financial situation with your partner and other significant people in your life. In fact, get the whole family involved if possible. You’ll be surprised how resilient kids can be and often they will have some really creative ideas on how to cut back on spending habits. This will take some of the stress and pressure of dealing with debt on your own.
Getting professional help from trusted financial experts like an or a licensed insolvency trustee can also be beneficial in helping to put your total debt picture in perspective. You may think your debt problem is unsolvable, but these debt experts can help you find ways to tackle your debt in payments you can afford.
Your best course of action to pay off holiday credit card debt quickly is to relax, take a deep breath, take an objective look at your situation and then figure out what you need to do to fix it. Don’t avoid the problem as it’s going to catch up on you anyway sooner or later. Face the debt head-on, and do everything you can do to get out of debt quickly so you can enjoy the rest of the year free of debt.