5 Expert Ways to Manage Your Holiday Bills in the New Year
For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you splurged on this year’s hottest toys or overspent on the perfect stylish gift for your momma (she does deserve it, after all), heading into the New Year with a ton of credit card debt can be hella stressful… and it’s waaay more common than you may think. According to November’s TD Bank’s Merry Money Survey, 78 percent of Americans believe they overspent during the holidays, and less than half of consumers planned to pay for holiday bills as they purchased things in the months leading up to those gift-giving finales.
That means that even though it’s already 2017, many folks are still paying off those must-have gadgets and wardrobe splurges. In fact, one in four respondents in the survey said they’ll need at least three months to cover all of their holiday bills. So what do you do if you find yourself in a similar predicament? Well, to help a busy gal out, we’ve chatted with a handful of top finance experts to find out how to manage your out-of-control 2016 holiday bills in 2017.
5 STEPS FOR TACKLING YOUR HOLIDAY BILLS
1. Finally get around to making a budget. According to financial adviser at Northwestern Mutual Seema Sheth, it’s essential that you stop putting off making a monthly budget. “Identify what you usually spend on your monthly bills,” suggests Sheth. Then put it to work paying off 2016 bills. “Depending on your budget, you can cut out or temporarily suspend any monthly costs for things you truly won’t need — or miss — while you’re working to pay off credit card debt.” Goodbye, winter pedicures. Plus, making a budget will set you up for better holiday spending in 2017. TD Bank found that seven out of 10 Americans that created a holiday budget stuck to it.
2. Consider transferring your current card balances. If you don’t have the liquid assets to pay off your holiday debt right away, you may want to consider transferring your balances to a new interest-free credit card, suggests founder and CEO of Credit Card Catalog Adam Jusko. “Consider transferring your current card balances to a new credit card that will let you park that debt at a zero percent interest rate while you get it paid off,” advises Jusko. According to their research, the best card for this is the Chase Slate Visa, but you can check out their ranked list of other options here.
3. Return those ugly sweaters. “You likely received a few gifts that missed the mark over the holiday season,” notes Coupon Sherpa saving expert Kendal Perez. “Return these gifts and request cash to put toward your holiday debt.” Even if you misplaced the receipt and the company only offers you store credit, consider selling those gift cards on sites like Gift Card Granny. Seeing that overall balance shrink is a gift in itself.
4. Know where to get help. “There are credit counseling agencies and nonprofits that will give you a free debt analysis,” notes CPA and chairman of Debt.com Howard Dvorkin. Sure, they do other services that require a fee, but you don’t have to sign up to get the free advice. Check out your options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
5. Set yourself up to spend less. Whether your guilty pleasure is a cheeky Starbucks latte in the morning or adorable printed tees in the mall, president and general manager of Credit Card Forum Ben Woolsey believes making spending a workout is the key to saving your moola. “When you arrive at a store or mall, lock your purse or wallet in the trunk of your car and only come back to get it if you really need to buy something,” he advises. Although it may seem drastic, having to walk all the way back to your car to splurge on something might just prevent instant-gratification shopping in the new year.
Did you overspend during the holidays? Let us know how you’re getting back on track @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)