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Post Holiday Debt

The guests have gone. You've eaten all the leftovers. Life is returning to normal, at least until you get your credit card bill in the mail.

Holiday debt affects many of us, no matter how frugal we may be. You may be shocked or even a little sad when you get your credit card bill, but don’t let it get you down. Here are some things you can do to take control of your spending:

  • Consider using only cash to pay for your purchases. This will help you think twice about every purchase.
  • Consider returning any unused items that you have purchased, but no longer need.
  • If you owe money on several different credit cards, try to consolidate your debt by transferring it to a low interest rate line of credit. Talk to your financial institution about your options. Combining your balances can help you focus your efforts towards paying off your credit card debt.
  • If you choose to pay for purchases using your credit card, keep your receipts and compare them to your credit card statement as soon as you receive it. This will help you keep track of your purchases and alert you to statement errors or purchases you did not make.
  • If you can’t pay off your balances in full, and you don’t qualify for a lower interest consolidation loan or line of credit, try to pay more than just the minimum monthly payment required.  Even paying $10 more than the required minimum can save you a lot in interest charges, in the longer term, and it can help you pay off the balance months sooner.
  • When you submit your payment, make sure you allow enough time for your payment to reach your credit card company, before the due date. This will help you avoid any late charges.
  • Don’t take cash advances from your credit card unless it is absolutely necessary. If you find that cash runs low from time to time, talk to your financial institution about your options. Setting up a short-term loan or a line or credit is almost always preferable to a credit card advance.
  • Track your progress in terms of paying off your credit card bills. This can help you stay motivated.

You may also benefit from sticking to a budget that allows you to save money and put that money towards debt repayment. You may want to consider getting financial advice from an accredited credit-counselling agency.

More information on managing debt:

Community Financial Counselling Services: A non-profit organization that provides financial counselling, budgeting, financial literacy, and debt management advice.

Nomoredebts.org: Free non-profit credit counselling services.

Getting help from a credit counsellor (Financial Consumer Agency of Canada): Information on how a credit-counselling agency can help you come up with a strategy to manage your debt.

Managing your money (Financial Consumer Agency of Canada): Tips to help you keep your finances under control and manage your debt.

Credit Card Payment Calculator (Financial Consumer Agency of Canada)

6 Ways to Reduce Debt (Investor Education Fund): Practical suggestions to help you reduce your debt.

SEED Winnipeg’s Asset Building Programs help low-income participants to save for productive assets or household necessities. Their programs include money management training classes, matched savings credits that are added to the funds that participants save on their own, opportunities for peer support from fellow participants, and one-to-one support from SEED staff. You can find more information on these programs here: SEED Winnipeg.