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How to deal with holiday shopping debt

Posted: 7:14 AM, Dec 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-28 07:15:15-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – It’s a problem facing many Americans right now: how to deal with those holiday shopping credit card bills.

We hate to play the Grinch, but with Christmas 2018 in the books, it's now time to start planning how you will be paying back the money you spent to bring your family holiday cheer. The good news is, it's not as hard as you think as long as you have a plan.

Cathy Anderson from Cape Coral is like millions of us. “Yes...I spent more than I should have."

And soon the bill for all those holiday trappings will come due. In fact, a survey by the National Retail Association shows we spent on average just over a thousand dollars this holiday season on all sorts of gifts, food and decorations.

Credit repair specialist Sam Sky says if you're looking at bills you can't pay, you might want to transfer your debt or ask your credit card company for more time. "If you have good credit and you are not above your limit, you can get a zero percent interest credit card. Two, if you can't manage the payment, ask for a forbearance on your card and expansion of your credit.”

A forbearance will allow you to skip a couple of payments. But keep in mind, the interest will keep piling up.

Also remember you are not alone. A staggering 22% of us, according to another survey, go into debt every holiday season thanks to impulsive and emotional buying.

We have all been guilty of making an impulsive or emotional buy using a credit card. But Sam says there is a way around that. He recommends kids get educated early on about managing their money either at home or in school.

“With consumer finance, with compounding interest and all those things, there should be these classes. Probably have it taught once every other year to instill it in kids so they can comprehend, see, and it just makes more sense there."

A final tip? Start fresh in 2019 by making a list of everything you buy in one month. See what you can eliminate and use the savings to build a cushion for next year, or to make money.

"The more you can find ways to save and invest, the more it's going to put money in your pocket," says Sky.

This also goes for the upcoming New Year's Eve holiday. Check out what you have spent so far and spend for New Year’s Eve accordingly. You'll be thankful you did when the bills come due.