Experts advise tackling holiday debt before the New Year - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Experts advise tackling holiday debt before the New Year

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)

Now that presents are open, and Christmas 2016 comes to an end, experts say many Americans will soon face the reality of their holiday spending.

Are you going to the store to exchange gifts or picking up some bubbly for a New Years Eve party? Experts are saying if you want to stop holiday debt in its tracks, leave your plastic credit cards at home.

In addition to a cash-only diet, banking experts say you can tackle holiday debt by prioritizing what needs to be paid off first by tackling bills with the highest interest rates.

Next experts say you should work out your essential spending, like electric bills and food, while skipping on extra indulgences until your debt is gone. A simple question to ask yourself, they advise, is do I need it or want it?

Debt managers with DebtHelper.com also say it's important to plan for the New Year to avoid falling into debt again in 2017, and start managing those finances now, instead of falling into more post-holiday sales traps.

"It's kind of like that New Years resolution, I'm going to start eating right January first, well, start doing right for your finances now, because January 1st you're not going to be able to do right because you're going to have to pay everything back that you spent overboard in December," said Investment Adviser Christopher St. John.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent nearly 600 dollars on average for gifts alone.Add on the average cost of food, decorations, cards, and flowers, and that number grows even more. However, financial advisers agree that dwelling in the damage won't change your bank statement.

"The past is the past, going forward, you have the opportunity to do the best you can with the resources you have. There may be some trade-offs and some decisions you have to make, but doing that now is far better than waiting," said Andy Seig, Merrill Lynch Head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions.

Experts also say you can search for what they call missing money- by looking for any old , dormant bank accounts, investment fund, or un-cashed checks you may have forgotten about.

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