How to Pay Off Your Holiday Credit Card Debt in 3 Months or Less

The holidays are a time for joy, family, giving … and racking up debt. More than a quarter of Americans have fallen into debt paying for holiday expenses — and it’s not a small amount of debt either. Overall, the average amount owed among those with holiday debt was more than $1,000. Of course, it’s easy to feel the pressure to spend during the holidays. But you don’t want to let overspending set you back financially in the new year. So if you ended up charging a little too much in 2018, here’s how to quickly pay off your holiday debt and start 2019 off on the right financial foot.

1. Figure Out How Much Debt You Have

To pay off your holiday debt quickly, you need to know what you’re dealing with. That means opening your credit card bills or checking your statements online. Add up all your balances to get a clear picture of how much holiday debt you have.

2. Develop the Right Debt Payoff Mindset

You might feel overwhelmed by how much you owe. But you can find the motivation to pay it off by focusing on the benefits of being debt free. Ask yourself why it is important to you to pay off your debt and what you’ll do with the extra money once your debt is paid. Having a specific goal will give you willpower to pay your debt off and not continue to charge. Maybe your goal is a vacation to Hawaii this summer. Print out a photo of your financial goal and keep it somewhere that you will be forced to look at it daily, and remind yourself that you’ll book the vacation once your holiday credit card debt is paid off and you start to save that money for your trip.

3. Create a Debt Payoff Plan

Another way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by your debt is breaking down the total you owe into manageable amounts. For example, if you have $1,000 of holiday debt and want to pay it off in three months, you’d need to make monthly payments of about $333. If you get paid twice a month, that’s about $166 per paycheck — or $11 a day. You could also make a chart showing how much you need to pay each week or month to eliminate your debt and track your progress.

4. Start as Soon as Possible

You don’t have to wait until you get your credit card bills to start making payments. The more frequently you make payments, the less interest you’ll end up paying and the more quickly you’ll be paid off. If you can, consider making weekly or biweekly payments.

5. Try Paying Off High-Rate Debt First

Focusing on your credit card or loan with the smallest balance first and making only minimum payments on other debt can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and build momentum to pay off bigger debt. However, you could actually pay off what you owe faster by prioritizing your debt with the highest interest rate.

6. Find Expenses You Can Temporarily Eliminate

To pay off your holiday debt quickly, take a look at what you might be able to live without for a few months. You could cancel some subscription services, eliminate lunches out and make coffee at home to free up extra cash for debt repayment.

7. Minimize Costs You Can’t Eliminate

You can’t eliminate all of your monthly expenses, but there are plenty you can reduce. For example, can you call and try to cut your phone or cable bill? Every little bit helps.

8. Make Extra Money for Debt Payments

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, take time to go through your stuff to find things you no longer need that you can sell for cash. You can sell DVDs, books, clothing, tech items and unwanted gift cards online. You also could pick up a side hustle in your free time to bring in extra money for debt repayment.

9. Make Use of Credit Card Rewards

If you have cash back or rewards credit cards, consider putting them to use to help pay off your holiday debt.

10. Stick to Cash

If you want to pay off holiday debt quickly, you have to avoid racking up more debt. Allot yourself a certain amount of cash each week. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Not only can using cash help reduce your reliance on credit, but also it might help reduce your overall spending.

11. Create an After-Action Plan

After paying off your holiday debt, you need to take steps to avoid racking up debt again next holiday season. Create a savings plan to have enough cash for the holidays in 2019. Just as you created a plan to pay off debt by breaking down what you owed into smaller payments, you can figure out what you need to save based on 2018 holiday spending. Then, divide that amount by the number of months left in the year until the holidays to know how much you need to set aside each month.

Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Gobankingrates.com

3 Ways to Deal with Your Holiday Debt Before it Gets Out of Control

holiday debtDo you have high credit card balances after all the holiday shopping you did in November and December and still haven’t made a dent in it yet? First, you might want to plug your information into First Financial’s credit card payoff calculator and see how much you need to put toward those bills each month to get debt free within a few months, or whatever your debt-payoff timeline may be.

1. Open a Low Rate Balance Transfer Card

If the debt you’ve accumulated resides on a credit card with a high interest rate, you may want to explore a lower rate financing offer by transferring your balance to another credit card. This strategy requires a little math and firm commitment to your plan.

Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll be paying in fees when you transfer the balance and how long you have this lower rate financing. You can use one of the debt payoff calculators mentioned above to determine how much you need to pay each month in order to eliminate your debt within that period.

During this payoff time, it’s crucial you not add to your balance, because that will only make your goal more difficult (and expensive) to achieve.

First Financial has a great Visa Platinum Card with a really low rate, no balance transfer fees, no annual fee, plus rewards for purchases!* 

2. Get Your Money Back

If for some reason you never gave out all your gifts, you may want to consider returning some.  In the likely event you already distributed your gifts, take a look at your own haul. You don’t want to insensitively get rid of gifts someone thoughtfully picked out for you, but if you find yourself with things you don’t need or gift cards you don’t plan to use, consider selling them to help pay off your debt. Even exchanging an unwanted item for something you need could help you save money, if you were thinking of buying it anyway. Any way you can cut back on spending in the coming months will help you repay your credit card debt faster.

3. Take Out a Personal Loan

If you’re looking at several months or years of debt repayment, you may be better off consolidating the high-interest credit card debt with a personal loan at a lower interest rate. Again, it’s crucial you not add to the debt during or after you’ve repaid it, because that will drag out your debt issues and cost you more money in interest. It’s not always necessary to consolidate credit card debt, but sometimes that’s the best way to make repayment manageable.

First Financial also has personal loan options available, with fixed payments, plus several other great benefits.**

*APR varies up to 18% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

**Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a personal loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

Article Source: Christine DiGangi for http://blog.credit.com/2015/01/3-ways-to-deal-with-your-holiday-debt-before-it-gets-out-of-control-104906/