7 On Your Side: Tips for climbing out of holiday debt

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side is trying to help ease some of your financial pain once the reality of all the money you spent on gifts this holiday hits home.

The statistics are startling. On average, the National Retail Federation says we'll spend more than $1,000 this year on holiday gifts.

Three of four of us will pay with plastic.

That means when your January bills come, it could mean a mountain of regret and debt. But if you didn't budget and are staring some big bills down, here's what you do.

The first technique is the "snowball method".

That's where you pay off the credit card with the smallest balances first. This one's good if you're easily overwhelmed by debt.

You'll feel good about paying off bills so that your savings "snowball."

Another bill buster is pay off the card with the highest interest rate first.

This makes the most sense because it will save you the most money on interest payments.

Another way to save on interest - transfer balance from a card with a higher interest rate to one that's lower.

One caution - read the fine print for hidden fees. For instance if you're late on a payment, your interest rate shoots up.

And check out debt apps.

These can help you create a pay-down plan and set up alerts so you don't miss payments.

Just make sure you use a safe app since you'll be sharing bank info.

"Ready for Zero" is an android app that ensures it uses bank-level encryption.

A few more big takeaways - the best way to save is stop spending! That means go on an "all cash" diet and put away those credit cards.

And always pay more than the minimum on your credit card bill, unless you like paying extra.

For instance if you charge about a grand this season and only make the minimum payment you wouldn't pay the bill off for five years, costing you an additional $500 in interest.


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