stressedmanShoppers often take on holiday debt when buying gifts for friends and family. Some go way overboard. Some let things get a little out of hand. If you’re the former, you may want to reach out to the folks at the Association of Independent Consumer Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). AICCCA says it often sees a spike in January in consumers seeking credit card help. If you’re the latter, here are some tips that could help in paying down that debt. 

  • Avoid frivolous spending. Start the New Year with a philosophy of eliminating, or limiting, unnecessary spending, especially trips to restaurants or fast-food establishments. The average American spends about $1,200 a year on fast food alone, according to a 2014 survey. That money can go toward your holiday debt.
  • Pay more than the minimum. If you make only minimum payments on your credit card, interest piles up and you end up paying more than you anticipated for holiday gifts. Try going above the minimum each month to pay off your credit cards. If you can’t do it for all your cards, start with the cards that have the highest APR. They accumulate interest faster and cost you more in the long run.
  • Return unused gifts. Everybody receives those gifts that they know they aren’t going to use. Rather than letting gifts sit unopened or unused for months, return them for cash or sell them online. Use the money to help pay down debt.
  • Redeem credit card rewards. After so much holiday spending, you’re bound to have credit card rewards. Cash them out or apply them to your holiday debt.
  • Invest in accounting software. It’s easy to keep track of income and expenses throughout the year with cloud-based accounting software. Such software is not just for business owners, it can help the everyday consumer. You can access it from anywhere, so whenever you make an expense, you can record it. You can set a budget for holiday gifts next year and easily monitor your spending.

One more tip: After visiting your tax adviser and having your taxes prepared, consider applying any refund you may receive towards your debt.

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