Digging Your Way Out of Holiday Debt - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/14/04

Digging Your Way Out of Holiday Debt

Nearly one third of adults say they spent more than they intended during the holidays. If you haven't received your monthly credit card statement, chances are you will- spelling out those hefty holiday charges. So if you went overboard a little or a lot here's some advice to help get those credit card charges under control.

'Tis the season for racking up credit card bills. And if you're seeing red even after the holidays, you're not alone. "I do see a significant difference in over what my normal expenditures would be if I didn't use my credit card so you just have to monitor it so you don't have 12 months worth of shopping in one month," says Karen Marsalis, a holiday credit card user.

She is part of a select few who kept a careful track of her holiday expenses. "I do spread out my Christmas shopping through the whole year so I'm not faced with one particular month over another that's just really high," says Marsalis.

Crystal Gomoke of Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Lubbock says most of us are not like Karen, in fact, she says 52% of people who put Christmas on credit cards this year, will still be paying off those expenses next year. "Most of the time it's one of two factors either they just weren't paying attention to how much they were putting on credit cards and they got overwhelmed quickly or their income has been reduced."

Counseling services see a 25% increase in clients after the holidays, who have an average of $20,000 in debt piled up. "Our two busiest times of the year are February after people have run up their credit card debt after Christmas and in September after people run up their credit card debt for back to school expenses," says Gomoke.

So what can you do to keep out of credit trouble?

  • First track your expenses, create a budget on exactly how much you spend and on what.
  • Second whatever you spend on your credit cards, make sure you can pay off the amount within one to three months.
  • Always try to pay more than the minimum balance. Paying just the minimum alone will keep creditors from calling, but most of that money goes toward the interest alone.

"Hopefully everyone can pay off their expenses from December what they spent on Christmas by March that's that we hope," says Gomoke.

Gomoke adds a good rule of thumb for Christmas expenses is not to spend more than one percent of your yearly household income. If you use credit cards chances are you'll end up spending 33% more than you would if you just paid cash.

For more advice on ways to reduce your credit card debt, ( click here).

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