The holidays may be over, but their financial impact is likely to add extra strain in the new year for the 36 percent of individuals who took on debt to pay for gifts, decorations and more in 2021, according to LendingTree.
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you brought holiday debt into the new year,” said Michael Sullivan, a personal financial consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “But with a little focus and hard work, you can create a plan of action that will pay off that debt as quickly as possible so you can focus on your other big money goals for 2022 like buying a home or taking a dream vacation.”
Sullivan shares six tips to help you quickly pay off your holiday debt:
- Stop using credit cards. To start, you must stop incurring new debt. Stop using your credit cards as you work to pay off your balances.
- Eliminate (or minimize) expenses. To free up additional cash for debt payments, scour your budget or online bank ledger for expenses you can eliminate or minimize. Is there a subscription you can pause or cancel? Try negotiating a lower rate for your phone or cable bills, or switch service plans or providers to save.
- Explore gig work. The quickest way to pay off debt is with more income. Consider gig work like food delivery with DoorDash or Postmates, or driving for Uber or Lyft. Depending on your skills, you could perform odd jobs like dog walking or errands with TaskRabbit. You can find part-time remote work on sites like FlexJobs or UpWork. Apply your gig earnings toward your debt.
- Pause non-essential savings. Have you been saving for a new car, vacation or home? Consider hitting pause temporarily and redirecting those funds to your holiday debt.
- Use holiday gifts. It’s not as exciting as buying new clothes or splurging on a night out but using cash gifts you received can help put a dent in your holiday debt.
- Consider a balance transfer. Explore a balance transfer to save on interest charges. Many card issuers offer 0 percent interest on balance transfers for a period between 12 and 18 months. Remember to factor in the transfer fee, which usually is a percentage of the balance being transferred.
For additional debt help, consider a free credit counseling session from Take Charge America.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services including credit counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 2 million consumers nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more, visit takechargeamerica.org or call (888) 822-9193.