How to Get Holiday Debts Under Control

So, you’ve considered the reasons that you overspent over the holidays, but the damage is already done. Now it’s time to pick up the pieces and get on with your life. But when you’re facing a staggering amount of debt, that’s not always so easy. But in almost every case, there is hope.

Create A Budget
The first thing you need to do is create a budget. If you’ve never made one, now is as good a time as any to start. If you already have a detailed budget, you’ll need to revise it. When you’ve run up a higher balance on your credit cards, you’ll have to put more money toward them than you were previously.

Those who aren’t already working with a budget will need to write down all of their income and expenses. Your list should include everything, from utility bills to the pack of gum you buy twice a week. Even the smallest expenses can add up to more money than you realize.

Cut Down On Expenses
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start cutting things out. Go through your expenses and see what you can do without. In most cases, there will be plenty of non-necessities you can completely cut out, such as buying breakfast on the way to work or automatic car washes. If you do it yourself, there’s no need to pay someone (or a machine) to do it for you.

Next, look for expenses you can cut back on. If you have cable but rarely watch TV, you could get a less expensive package or have it cut off and join Netflix. When it comes to groceries, you could stop buying brand name products all the time and start buying more generics. Unless you’re already spending the bare minimum (and most people aren’t), there’s no need to deprive yourself of everything. It’s entirely possible to cut back and still have most of the things you enjoy in life.

Check What You’re Saving
Once you’ve found things to cut out and things to cut back on, add up how much you’ll be saving by doing so. You’ll probably find that you’re saving dozens, or perhaps even hundreds, of dollars in a month’s time. If you put that amount toward paying off your debts, you could pay them off much faster.

Keep Looking For Ways To Save
But don’t stop there. During the course of the month, see if you can find other ways to save money. Check the Sunday paper for coupons for products that you use. If you need clothes, shop secondhand stores instead of going to your favourite boutique. When you shop online, look for coupon codes that will save you money. When you find a way to save money, write down how much you saved. Then add that amount to your debt payments for the month.

If you have more than one credit card with a balance, it’s best to pay off the one with the highest balance first. Try this: Pay the minimum payment toward all of your debts, except for the one with the highest interest. For that one, add all of the money you’ve come up with by adjusting your budget toward it. Keep paying that amount until the debt is paid in full. Then start adding the amount you were paying toward the debt you just paid off toward the debt with the next highest interest rate. Repeat until all of your debts are paid, and you’ll save a bundle of money.

If you’re able to make the minimum payments on all of your debts and have at least a little bit left over each month, it’s not as hard as you might think to eliminate your debts. It will take discipline, but you can do it. If you want to get rid of those holiday debts badly enough, it’s not that hard to do what it takes to get them paid off.

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