Have you just opened your credit card statement and are surprised at the balance $2566.41 cents? Or maybe it’s even higher than that and you have no idea how you will pay if off before your summer vacation down payment is due. Although, I am never in favor of paying credit card interest, I know sometimes it is unavoidable if your car breaks down or if you already have a balance you simply cannot pay off in one lump sum.
Here are some quick tips on how to pay off your Christmas debt to help you sleep at night.
- Return Expensive Gifts-Take back anything that you regret buying. If your husband wanted a tool set and it set you back hundreds of dollars and he isn’t happy with it anyway, take it back and get him one tool he really wanted that cost one quarter of the cost of the tool set. If your husband got you diamond earrings on a last minute whim, take them back and get a pair of silver earrings. I know this is hard but, if you can’t afford them, take them back. You’ll feel better when your credit card statement is back at zero!
- Eating and Drinking Out– Reduce, if not eliminate, eating and drinking out! Starbucks is included! If you are spending $4 on a cup of coffee three times per week, that is nearly $50 a month you can put toward paying off debt! Ordering take out adds up as well. You may be spending hundreds of dollars a month collectively in fast food, coffee, lunch, dinner, and snacks! Put the money you would have spent in an envelope labeled “Christmas debt” and send it to the credit card company.
- Reduce Grocery Store Spending– Reduce the purchase of prepackaged food you buy in the grocery store. Cooking is cheaper than the frozen dinners in the frozen food aisle and much healthier!
- Sell Unwanted Items– Sell items you no longer use on Facebook yard sale groups, Craig’s List, E-Bay or similar selling sites. If that treadmill is collecting dust or your kids have outgrown toys and baby gear, sell it. You never did use the bread maker Aunt Mary gave you. Perhaps the meat smoker was never even taken out of the box! Do you own a snow blower in the the mild winter state of Georgia? Bikes, drum sets, trampolines, etc. can be sold so you can use the money to pay off Christmas debt.
- Pet & House Sitting– Make extra money pet sitting or house sitting. These side hustles can pay well. If feasible, stay at a neighbor’s house for a couple days while they are away visiting a sick relative or look after their cat while they are gone.
- Walk dogs– Some dog owners need their dogs walked on a daily basis and pay well to keep their pooch happy. It is an easy way to make extra cash if you like dogs (and they like you too.)
- Provide Childcare– Make extra money babysitting. This could be a short term or long term way to make extra money. You can look after your child’s friend after school while their parents are still at work for 2-3 hours daily. You could also start to barter babysitting if you are already paying for your own children to be looked after as a way to save that money to pay debt.
- Rent Out Storage Space– Rent your garage or basement space for storage. Again this can be short term or long term. Throw away or sell items you don’t use and turn that space into extra cash. You should also have rental or home owner’s insurance to protect the renter’s belongings if it is not covered under your policy.
- Cleaning homes– Offer to clean a neighbor’s house for a couple of months or just for spring cleaning.
- Home Care Assistant– Offer to help an elderly person with grocery shopping, car rides, running errands, etc. This can be long term or short term side hustle.
If you feel that you might spend the extra money before you use it for bills other than Christmas debt, put the cash in an envelope until you get a $100 and then purchase a money order and send that money order right to the credit card company. Start an envelope system if you feel that will help set limits to your spending.
Most importantly, after you’ve paid off your Christmas debt, learn how to spend money wisely so that you can save your money, pay off your house early and retire without financial difficulty. It takes discipline and in most cases a lifestyle change. Keeping your debt low, is one of the best steps to financial freedom. Don’t start off 2017 on the wrong foot. Get control of your debt and spending now.
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!