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Cures for the holiday debt hangover

Lots of people are stressing about the debt they took on during the holidays, and here are ways to reduce the debt and stress.

Credit Cards on Bank Statements.

Credit Cards on Bank Statements. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / littlebloke

The holiday spending party is over, and boy is there a debt hangover.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 people who went into debt this holiday season, most of them are stressing out over their credit card bills, which averaged nearly $1,000. Those polled said they expect to take more than 10 months to pay it off.

If you’re singing the same sad song, here’s how to pay down that debt sooner.

  • Make the most of a bad situation

Do what you can to lower interest and penalties. Find credit cards offering zero percent rates for transferred debt. “With a lower interest rate, you will be charged less for the debt you carry; if you get a zero percent rate you will be able to more quickly pay off your debt. In this case you are saving and paying off debt. However, look at the fine print on offers for transfers and rates. They are subject to change if payments are not made or made late,” says Lynne Viccaro O’Leary, vice president, marketing for Teachers Federal Credit Union in Hauppauge.

  • Cut the “extras”

“At least for a month, cut out all the ‘extras’ you can think of in your budget — meal delivery kits, curated clothing memberships, movie channels, etc. Whatever you treat yourself to each month, go without it,” says Christine Maxwell, who runs the personal finance blog, HerMoneyMoves.

  • Find additional cash

“Is there an extra shift you can pick up?” asks Jeffrey Levine, CEO of BluePrint Wealth Alliance in Manhattan. “ Some overtime perhaps? Maybe just a temporary second job? It’s no fun, but life is about trade-offs. During those extra, tiring hours, keep reminding yourself why you’re making the sacrifice.”

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