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5 Tips to Ditch the Holiday Debt

Posted at 1:43 PM, Jan 05, 2023

Perhaps you went a bit overboard with holiday shopping this year and racked up debt.

With high inflation, it was especially easy to do.

We asked Melanie Jewkes, an Extension Professor at Utah State University, for the best strategy to pay off those credit cards.

  1. Be honest with yourself. Take time to look at the credit card statements or other bills and write down what you actually owe, what the minimum payment is, and the interest rate you are being charged. Also write down what you still owe with buy now pay later companies.
  2. Calculate your payoff time. This is easy to do with a free debt elimination calculator called PowerPay. PowerPay has been around for 30 years and has helped thousands of people make a debt payoff plan that works for them. It's free to use! Find it at powerpay.org.
  3. Make (at least) minimum payments on time. If you can't make on-time minimum payments, then it may be time to increase income and/or cut expenses. One easy way to free some income is to cancel or pause subscriptions and automatic deliveries.
  4. Stick with your payoff plan. The best debt payoff plan is the one that you will stick to. Choose ways that work for you, write it down, and check in on it a couple of times a month. It's easy to let regular spending take over, so set some reminders of your debt-free plan.
  5. Plan now for next year. As you get in the habit of sticking to your holiday debt-free plan, make a plan to create a holiday savings account for the next holidays. Since you already know at least some of what you spent by looking at those credit card bills, use a tax return and/or a portion of each paycheck to build your own 2023 holiday savings account so you can be debt free next year!

If it seems overwhelming to you, you can find free webinars on reducing debt and other awesome personal finance how-tos at @UtahMoneyMoms or finance.usu.edu/efw.