Holiday shopping may be officially over, but the credit card bill is here and now you get to figure out how to pay it. If you’re like most Americans, you have acquired around $1,000 in debt because of the holidays. Cleaning up your finances after overspending might be the biggest goal to achieve among your New Year’s resolutions and there are a few tips that will put you back on track.
Create an Actionable Plan
Before you let the final dollar amount of how much you owe scare you, begin by writing down some small steps. If you don’t create a plan, it’s difficult to know where to start. Producing a strategy will help you determine if you should pay off the debt quickly or over a long-term period. While the latter isn’t as ideal, it might be what you need to do based on your current financial situation.
Automate Your Budget
If you automatically set money aside to cover debt or expenses, you are less likely to take it out of a pre-assigned bucket. Whether you decide to set it up through your financial institution’s online or mobile banking, earmark the funds in an app or do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, dedicate money each week or paycheck to go toward the credit card bill.
Check for Rewards or Rebates
Extra money might be just a few clicks away. Double check your receipts and emails to see if there are any rewards or rebates that are unclaimed and waiting for you. If you use a cash-back app or widget when online shopping, transfer that money into your account to pay off your debt. Keep these deals in mind when shopping throughout the year to earn more benefits when spending.
Switch to a Cash Back Credit Card
If your debit or credit card doesn’t give you cash back already, look for one that does. The percentage or monetary return really adds up, which can be used to complete payments on your credit card bill. Don’t know what your benefits are? Do some research to see if that’s another spot where extra cash is lurking.
Start Saving for the Next Season Now
Before you know it, the holiday season will return and the spending will be back. Establishing a budget now will help you adhere to spending limits. By mapping out a plan, you can slowly save throughout the year and avoid the debt next year. Whether it’s $5 or $10 a week, starting early will put you farther ahead and make you much more joyful this time next January.
Alan Althouse is President and CEO of TruWest® Credit Union. TruWest Credit Union is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, and operates as a cooperative to provide its members with a lifetime of quality financial services and a culture of caring for its members, employees and communities. TruWest has more than 92,000 members and assets totaling more than $1.2 billion. TruWest Credit Union has 13 branch locations—nine in Metro Phoenix and four in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit truwest.org.