Americans spend a lot of money during the holidays. During the 2017 holiday seasons, the average consumer accumulated $1,054 of debt. That means many people started the new year with a deficit that may have stopped them from reaching their financial goals.
Ideally, you’ll avoid credit card debt during the holidays. If you rely on credit to pay for presents, travel, and other expenses, then you will need a plan to tackle your debt after the holidays. You can get a good start by following these four tips.
Always Pay More Than the Minimum
You should never pay the minimum your credit card. When you make the minimum payment, most of the money goes toward repaying interest. Since you don’t lower your actual balance, you get stuck in a cycle of debt.
Your credit card probably only forces you to pay 2% of balances over $1,000. If you owe $1,054 on a credit card that charges 16.71% APR, then it will take you 87 months to repay the full debt. That’s more than 21 years. During that time, you’ll spend more than $750 on interest.
Use a debt repayment calculator to see how long it will take you to eliminate your credit card debt by making minimum payments. The amount of time and money may shock you.
Focus on High-Interest Credit Cards First
Since you want to spend as little money on interest as possible, you should focus on repaying your high-interest credit card accounts first. You can save hundreds of dollars by repaying high-interest debt first.
Devote More Money to Debt Repayment
After your holiday splurge, you may need to cut back on your spending to lower your debt quickly. You don’t have to deny yourself essential goods and services. You don’t even necessarily have to give up all of life’s luxuries.
You should, however, look for places to cut spending for a while. Good ideas include avoiding restaurants, watching television instead of seeing movies at the theater, and making your own coffee instead of paying the high prices at cafes.
Dedicate Your Tax Return to Repaying Debt
The average tax refund puts $2,895 back into your pocket. If you expect to get a tax return next year, dedicate the money to repaying your credit card debt.
File your taxes as soon as you have all of the documents you need. The sooner you submit your paperwork, the sooner you’ll get your refund.
A lot of people go into debt during the holidays. A little debt won’t hurt you as long as you repay the balance as quickly as possible.