Ways to control holiday spending

- We've all been spending money lately. But, careful. Let's not get carried away.

Listen, the cost of charging holiday gifts can last years. Yes, years. Let me explain.  Last holiday season we spent on average $986 on holiday purchases, and more than half of us put that on a credit card. But here's the problem, more than half of us either take more than five months to pay that off or only make the minimum payment.

Here's why that's a problem. Let's look at $1,000 credit card debt at 18 percent interest. Now if you only make a minimum payment - $25 a month - means it'll take more than five years, three months, to pay that off. Double those payments to $50 and you are paying it off in two years, one month.

The goal though is to knock out holiday spending debt in three months. How can you do that? Let's look at three ways to pay off that credit card.

3 WAYS TO PAY DOWN THAT DEBT

  • Budget - willy nilly shopping means impulse buys
  • Sales - make a deal with yourself this year: only buy sales items 
  • Coupons - check for deals before you head out to shop

Ok, so what if you don't stick to the list? Well, you are more likely to overspend. If you do, in January you have to get things right. Do a cash cleanse. Start the year cash only.  You just got a lot of new gifts, right? Get in that closet and that garage and get rid of old things. Sell stuff and put it on that credit card. It might also be a good time to get a part-time job until that Christmas tab is paid off.

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