7 On Your Side: Top tips to dig out of holiday debt

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Nina Pineda has 7 On Your Side.

If you're like a lot of us, you might be waking up to big bills and a holiday debt hangover. But we have the antidote to all that stress.

Top steps to dig out of debt:


1. CHECK UNDER THE TREE
If you have some unwanted gifts left over from the holidays, return them pronto and turn them into store credit or cash. Stores like Target will give you cash with a gift receipt. But if you get store credit, turn it into cash on sites like http://www.giftcardgranny.com.

2. HIGHER FIRST
If you have more than one credit card with a balance, pay the one with the highest interest rate first.

3. 0% CREDIT CARDS
Another way to knock down interest, if you qualify, transfer credit card balances to one with zero percent teaser rate. Check out Chase's Slate, that offers 0% interest for the first 15 months. Just watch out for transfer fees, so read the fine print. And another warning, make sure you commit to paying down the principal, NOT charging more.

4. DON'T GET DESPERATE
Be wary of debt consolidation or debt settlement offers that sound good but can ruin your credit. Experts say, some debt settlement companies ask for up front fees in the thousands. Why not use that money to pay down your debt?

5. ALL CASH DIET
It's extreme, but physically take your credit cards out of your wallet (you could leave one in there in case of an emergency) and go on an all cash diet.

6. CHRISTMAS CLUB
And a simple way to not get into debt next December, join a Christmas Club (if you belong to a credit union) or open a savings account and get $20 a week direct deposited from your paycheck. You'll save more than a grand by year's end, and finance next year's holiday purchases.
Related Topics:
finance7 On Your Sidedebtholidayholiday shoppingcredit cardspersonal finance
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