It’s so easy to go overboard on Christmas. If you have kids, you want everything to be perfect for them. You want to build priceless memories, so spending any amount seems worth it. If you’re just getting started, you want to impress your family with how together you have things. Giving extravagant gifts to your family members seems like a great idea … until you’re staring at a huge credit card bill in January.
However it happened, it’s important to approach this problem rationally. Constantly blaming yourself won’t fix the problem. The important part now is to right yourself financially. You can’t take back gifts and return them at this point. You have to deal with the situation that’s in front of you.
Fortunately, you’re not alone. Here, at Consumers Credit Union we want to help. Check out these four ways you can patch up your finances and have things right before summer.
1.) Budgeting advice
It can be very tempting to make only the minimum payments on the credit card you used to buy Christmas. Unfortunately, it’s also the best way to ensure you’re in debt for all the Christmases from here on out.
Making minimum payments on credit cards prolongs the length of time you’re in debt. It also makes the total amount you pay for your debt skyrocket. Making just the minimum payment adds an extra $175 to a $10,000 balance at 21% APR.
What you need is an aggressive debt repayment plan. The question you should be asking yourself isn’t, “What’s the least I can pay on this debt?” Instead, identify the most you can afford to pay.Consumers can help with informative guides and worksheets on household budgeting.
Making an extreme budget is usually not a good choice, but in this case, it’s essential until you get yourself out from under that holiday-fueled debt. Make some sacrifices and get ready to tighten your belt for a little while. Yeah, coming up with an extra $35 or $50 a month is tough, but it’s the easiest way to get things moving.
2.) Refinancing major purchases
If you went overboard on one or two major purchases, like a new flat screen high definition TV, it may not be credit card debt you need help overcoming. Slick retailers offer crazy-sounding incentives to entice people to make major purchases for Christmas. Unfortunately, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, you may see you’re in for more than you can handle with a large monthly payment.
Consumers can help. You may need to finance over a longer term to manage the monthly expenses, or you may just need to restructure to pay less now. Either way, you’ll often find more favorable and flexible terms with us than you will at the retailer.
3.) Debt counseling
Does reading those credit card statements fill you with a dizzying sense of despair? Consumers can help you make sense of them.
Contact us to speak with a debt counselor through Consumers. You’ll gain a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities. You can also come up with a realistic plan to pay off your debt and avoid falling into the same trap next year.
4.) Balance Transfer
Instead of making dozens of minimum payments, wouldn’t it be nice to focus your debt into one manageable plan? Consumers’ offers Balance Transfer promotions throughout the year to help members transfer those balances from a higher interest-rate store card to perhaps a more manageable interest rate with one of our credit cards. Plus, you would have the convenience of making your payments and seeing your balances right on your Online Banking profile.
All you need is some basic personal information and a willing partner, like us. Stopping into one of our offices or calling us at 800.991.2221 can connect you with one of our Member Service Representatives that can help you organize and simplify your payments, working toward a debt-free life.
Your Turn: Feeling buyer’s remorse after a big holiday spending spree? Let us know about it in the comments. If you’ve got a system to stay on budget, help your fellow members and share your wisdom!