Tips on cutting down your post-Christmas debt

Consumer credit cards are posed in North Andover, Mass.
Consumer credit cards are posed in North Andover, Mass. Elise Amendola, File/AP/The Canadian Press

Holiday spending is winding down, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still bills to pay. If you’re dreading that January credit card bill there are some ways to make handling your debt easier.

Tanis Ell, a counsellor with the Credit Counselling Society, said that getting out of debt is like losing weight. It’s not a fast process, but doable with the right plan.

“We look at areas that they can reduce their spending so that they can focus on putting some money aside for those annual and seasonal expenses like Christmas, as well as putting some money toward their debt,” she explained.

She added that it’s too early to tell if Reginans are having debt difficulties this season, but appointments usually increase at this time of the year.

“We will start picking up and seeing more people that have used their credit cards over Christmas once the bills start coming in,” Ell said.

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Roxy Balkiwill, a branch manager with Conexus Credit Union, has some other ways people can pay down their credit card debt and reduce their interest payments.

“We would look into doing a term loan, which would be maybe one year to pay off this debt instead of with a credit card, the minimum payments are set to be over a four year period,” she explained.

“So it’s actually a lot longer to pay with credit cards.”

Balkwill added that if you don’t know what to do, your financial institution can always help develop a debt reduction plan that works for you.

“No one’s going to be judging them. That’s not what we do. We’re here to help them with their financial needs,” Balkwill said.

Both also recommend setting aside a few dollars each pay period for annual expenses like Christmas. This way you can cut down on credit card dependency next year.

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