HAVE you experienced the classic “holiday debt hangover”?
This type of hangover is usually experienced during the months following the Yuletide season—when the shopping, parties and gift-giving have practically drained most of one’s financial resources.
Prevention is always better than cure. So to avoid this hang-over, it is best to plan ahead.
By planning ahead, I mean putting up a Christmas fund, doing your shopping the whole year round, and taking advantage of store sales. Doing so would spare you from holiday panic, impulse buying, overspending, and suffering financial hangover.
Now you are telling me that it is too late and that I should have told you so much earlier.
It is never too late. For next year, that is.
In the meantime, what do you do with the expenses which you have already piled up?
Here is a list of useful tips provided by the BSP Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy (formerly, Financial Consumer Advocacy Group).
In many cases, they have proven effective in helping wipe off one’s holiday debts.
The first step--and often the most difficult--is to admit that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
-Once you have recovered your bearing, assess the damage and make a serious plan and firm commitment to pay off within a specific time frame.
-Pay debts as quickly as possible to prevent interest charges from ballooning and to protect your credit standing.
-Pay as much as you can. Do not pay just the mininum due on your credit card statement.
-Bust open your “piggy bank”. The holiday debt situation can be classified as one of the rainy days that you have been saving for.
-Maximize windfalls. If you have received a raise or earned extra cash, use them to pay off debts.
-Don’t pay credit with credit. Avoid obtaining loans to pay off your credit card debts, for example.
-Keep or lock up your credit card for the time being to avoid using it further and accumulating more debts. Use cash for purchases whenever possible. This practice disciplines you to stick to your budget by using only available cash on hand.
-Go on a spending diet. Trim the budget fat which may include limiting trips to the mall cafe, bringing lunch instead of eating out, or commuting to work.
-Sell some old stuff through the Internet or by holding a garage sale. This is also one way of clearing up the clutter in preparation for the New Year.
-When everything else fails, go for debt restructuring. Negotiate with banks and credit card companies for affordable payment terms or “paylite” schemes to help you pay off your debt.
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