5 Ways to Pay Off Holiday Debt Faster
Are you haunted by the debt of Christmas past? Try these five tips for kicking holiday debt out of your life in 2024.
Sell stuff online
If you want to stay out of holiday debt, create a budget with a strict limit of how much you want to spend for holiday gifts — then stick to it. If you start getting carried away and feel that you can’t control your online or in-store holiday spending, close the laptop or phone screen or walk out of the big-box store before the next holiday song blasting makes you spend even more. Chances are you’ve got furniture, tools, lamps, bikes, and other items gathering dust in the basement or garage. Get started on your spring cleaning early by selling these items on Facebook Marketplace, eBay or another online venue.
Scrounge up extra income
Take on a short-term side hustle or ask your boss if you can earn overtime at work. Then apply the earnings to holiday debt. When all is said and done, you can return to your usual schedule, or even better, work extra hours for a couple more months to save ahead for next holiday season.
Transfer debt to a balance transfer card
If you got carried away and racked up more holiday debt on a high-interest credit card than you can pay off in a few months, consider transferring the balance to a new card with an introductory 0 percent APR for a year or 18 months. Then pay enough each month to get to a zero balance before the 0 percent APR expires. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of around 3 to 5 percent of the transferred balance, so first, make sure that fee won’t exceed what you’d pay in interest on the old card. Stay away from making new purchases on the new card. Then hammer away at that debt until it’s gone.
Important: Make sure you never pay late, since late payments can nix the 0 percent deal and stick you with a high interest rate and more debt woes.
Prepare most meals at home
In 2023, Americans spent an average of $2,375 annually on dining out, according to credit and financial resources. That amount comes to nearly $200 monthly, in addition to weekly groceries. If you cut back on dining out, prepare most meals at home, and take your lunch to work a few times a week, you can apply your savings to holiday credit card debt.
Go on a spending fast
A “spending fast” may sound extreme, but it’s mainly just living within your means. Your spending fast may include pausing all but one streaming channel, preparing most meals at home, planning errands so you use less gas, and adjusting utility usage for lower bills. It might mean you shop only at discount grocers and don’t buy new clothes for a month or two. Start out small, committing to a month-long spending fast. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you might add another month or two, saving plenty of money to go towards holiday debt.