We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s the end of the year, and you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed by your finances. You spent too much on gifts and food for holiday parties, and now that the celebrations are over and the bills are coming in, it feels like you won’t be able to pay them off in time. Don’t panic! There are ways to get out of this situation without racking up more credit card debt or ruining your credit score. Here are some tips for getting back on track financially after the holidays:
Take stock of how much you owe
- Take stock. It’s important to know what you owe, so make a list of all of your debts and add up the total amount. Then compare this amount to your income and decide how much you can afford to pay on each debt each month. Aim to pay off credit cards with high-interest rates first.
- Determine how much money you have available to put towards paying down your balances.
- Make a plan. Now that you know how much money you have available for paying off debts, decide what steps to take next by reviewing our suggestions below.
Don’t just pay the minimum balance
“I’ve been there,” you might be thinking. “The minimum payment is much easier than cutting back on spending and making myself go without.” If this sounds like you, let’s consider the impact of just paying the minimum balance every month:
If you have $5,000 in credit card debt at an average interest rate of 17%, with a payment plan that requires only monthly minimum payments of approximately $70 per month, it will take more than 20 years to pay off the balance if no interest is added to your account during that time period. In the end, you’re also paying much, much more than you initially owed.
In other words, unless something changes—like making additional payments on top of your monthly minimums—you could be paying for things long after they’re gone. Plus, carrying a high balance impacts your credit utilization ratio which could lower your credit score.
Cut back on other expenses
If you’re looking to make the most of your money, it’s time to begin cutting back on other expenses.
- Cut back on entertainment. That means fewer nights at the movies and less spending at restaurants. Instead, make plans with friends and family for a game or movie night, or for a potluck dinner that you can share together.
- Cut back on eating out. It doesn’t help that many restaurants offer discounts during this season—so if you’re trying not to spend too much money, keep in mind that it’s okay not to buy lunch every day as long as there is food available in your house!
- Cut back on extra luxuries and non-essentials like decor, toys, and accessories. Rather than wasting money on things you don’t need, why not put it towards paying down debt?
Try a personal loan
If you’re struggling with debt, a personal loan can be an excellent solution. For example, if you have high-interest credit card debt that is difficult to pay off and just want to get out of credit card debt altogether, a personal loan could help you do that. Personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards and have one fixed-monthly payment. You could even consolidate multiple credit card balances into one personal loan.
Personal loans are also good for covering unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs. If something were to happen and suddenly there was a large expense in your life but no way to pay it, having a personal loan would allow the funds necessary without having to touch any of your other assets like retirement accounts or home equity loans/lines of credit (HELOC).
We know it’s not easy to face these kinds of financial problems, but the sooner you take action to fix them, the better off you’ll be. Consider taking out a personal loan from an online lender like Credit Direct if you find yourself in over your head with holiday debt. With a lower interest rate and fixed monthly payment, you’ll be free from that holiday debt faster! Check rates in minutes here with no effect to credit score.