The new year has set in. The Christmas tree’s been taken down, decorations put away in the closet and all the fruit cakes are gone. Just about the only reminder of Christmas left with us are the credit card statements. About two years ago, the American Research Group Inc. had placed the planned spending average for Christmas at about $854 per shopper. That was two years ago. For the past Christmas ? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that most of your past Christmas spending was, in all likelihood, done with the use of your credit card and paying them off quickly will make sense for it will help you minimize interest and other charges. What follows are some smart steps you can take to get over the Christmas money hangover.
Determine Now How Much You Owe: In a frenzied Christmas shopping rush, there’s just no way you could have kept track of how many times you pulled out your credit card from your wallet. Before the credit card bills start coming in to shock you, take some time to note down how much you spent and where. Check your purchase receipts as reference to sum up the figures or you might review your purchases on line. Most credit card companies anyway post purchases in real time. Don’t leave out purchases you made on payment plans, deferred credit lines or your use of store credit.
You’ll Need To Budget For The First Quarter Of The Year: To pay off your Christmas debts aggressively, assess how much excess money you’ll have every month to pay credit card balances. Work out a budget for the first 3 months at least. Find out the amount that will be coming in from wages, investments and other income. Find out how much you’ll need for the non-negotiable payments like mortgages, car loan, utilities and groceries. Whatever leftover money there is should be directed towards payment of your credit cards. If you’re unable to pay the full amounts, pay as much as you possibly can. This will reduce the interest on the balances that remain.
Check Your Income Tax Return And Earmark Any Refund For Paying Your Credit Card: If your credit card balances are way beyond what you can pay, assess your tax situation, do some pencil pushing and determine if you’ll be receiving a refund. If there is, file your tax return electronically by end of January so that it’s processed early enough for you to get a windfall by February, if there really is. The timing would be perfect for paying off the balance of your credit card.
Set Up A Savings Plan For Next Christmas: Once your Christmas spending last year has been settled and cleared, you can now look forward to the next holiday season. But this time around, plan for it. Don’t get into any instant loans or incur new debts. Deposit a certain amount into a high-interest savings account monthly and lay off it till next Christmas comes around.
Overspending during the Christmas season can easily happen. It’ll leave a big impact on your wallet and bring in hefty credit card bills. Just pay them off as quickly as you can and plan ahead so you don’t get that debt hangover.