It's that time of year. You're likely spending a bit more money than you typically do throughout the year because the holiday seasons have begun. Whether you host your extended family for a Thanksgiving gathering or are among thousands of California shoppers who stand in long lines at department stores for Black Friday sales, it is not uncommon to start racking up credit card debt between November and January.
It might not be so bad if your holiday shopping were the only expense you'd have at this time of year. The problem for most people, however, is that daily living expenses still exist, and, for some people, extenuating circumstances arise, such as an unexpected medical emergency, a loss of income, needed car repairs, etc., that can cause already just-balancing financial scales to tip in the wrong direction. This can spark an after-holiday financial crisis.
Ways to stay on top of your credit card debt
It doesn't really matter whether you have incurred debt by using credit as cash and developing poor spending habits or you simply had to use your credit card to cover a major expense that you were unprepared to meet. It's done, and your main focus now is how to get out of debt. The following options may apply to your situation:
- You can divvy up your income to make sure you are taking out at least enough money every month to send the minimum payment toward your credit card balance. If you have more than one card carrying debt, this can be challenging.
- Minimum payments help whittle away at your balance; however, if these are the only payments you're making, you could get stuck paying off the same debt for five or more years.
- It often helps to up your payments whenever possible. If your minimum payment is $100, send $200 or more if you can; you may be surprised at how much time this carves off the overall time it takes to pay off your debt, in full.
- If you have several credit cards with debt but enough funds to pay off one of them in full, this may be an option you'll want to consider.
Sometimes, all it takes is a readjustment of your spending habits and a bit of diligence and focus to pay down your credit card debt and get your finances back on track. Other times, it's not that simple. You may need to explore other debt relief options, such as Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so that you can wipe the slate clean and start afresh when things have gotten out of hand.
Bankruptcy is not necessarily a bad thing
While it's true that a certain negative stigma remains when it comes to filing for bankruptcy, many California residents have learned that it is not always as bad as some people make it seem. In fact, choosing a solid bankruptcy plan that fits your particular needs can be the answer you've been looking for to resolve a serious financial crisis and lay the groundwork for restored financial stability down the line.