Paying off Those Post Holiday Bills
While Christmas day is here and gone in a flash, the bills generated by all that holiday shopping can often stick around for much longer. If you are one of those folks who are still paying off the Christmas bills long into the spring and summer, this article is for you.
Even for the thriftiest among us, Christmas time and the holiday season offers many temptations to overspend. After all, there are so many great things on display, and so many relatives and friends to buy for, that it is all too easy for spending to get out of control.
No matter what the reason for the overspending, it is important to get those bills paid off as quickly as possible, and to get back on track as early as you can. For most people, holiday bills mean credit card bills, and running even a small balance on a credit card can take many years. In addition, credit card companies have recently hiked the minimum amount cardholders must pay. While this change is intended to make it easier to pay off the balance, it can leave those with big balances financially stretched.
One good way to get those bills paid off without busting your budget is to watch the mail for those 0% balance transfer offers, and to take advantage of them when you can. When playing the 0% game, however, it is important to pay attention to the fine print. That is because after the initial 0% interest period has passed, many of these credit cards hike their rates substantially. If you plan to take advantage of several 0% offers to pay off your balance, be sure to keep a list of when the various 0% offers expire, and move on accordingly.
If you do not have a monthly budget already, the post holiday season is a good time to start one. Having a monthly budget help you cut back on current expenses, thereby leaving more money left over to pay off those post holiday bills. In addition, knowing where your money comes from, and where it goes, will help you avoid the temptation to splurge in the future. There are many reasons to create and stick to a monthly budget, and the end of the year is a great time to start the budget process.
Finally, many people are tempted to take advantage of the many home equity loans offered to pay off holiday bills and other credit card debt. While this may sound like a tempting offer, borrowing against your biggest asset to pay for Christmas can be a risky idea. That is because you are literally putting your home on the line, and many people find themselves institutionalizing debt that should be short term. While those with sufficient fiscal discipline may be able to use home equity to pay debt, most people would be better off using a combination of careful budgeting and sound financial planning to eliminate those post holiday blues.