Are January Bills Giving You the Blues?

(TORONTO, ON) – Traditionally, the third Monday in January is known as the so-called saddest day of the year. For those Canadians who financed the winter holidays on credit, Blue Monday is typically the day those debts come into full view through January bills.

“A lot of Canadians are feeling overwhelmed with credit card debt at this time of year,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “Instead of feeling down about your bills, or ignoring them all together, now is the time to assess the damage, set financial goals and create a plan to pay off this debt.”

Consolidated Credit advises consumers to set SMART financial goals to address the January credit crunch. “By setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound, consumers can begin to create a budget that will help them accomplish these goals,” adds Schwartz.

The reality of holiday spending can cause a real cash flow crunch once holiday bills come due. In order to help Canadians manage post-holiday debt and achieve their financial goals, Consolidated Credit recommends consumers:

  • Stop adding to the debt –Put credit cards away and stop spending until holiday debt is paid off.
  • Set SMART goals – Set goals that are specific and relevant to your individual financial situation, and can be measured and attained within a specific period of time.
  • Create a Budget – Start by listing all sources of monthly income and all monthly expenses, be sure to add debt repayment and savings to expense side of budget. Make small cuts – take your lunch to work, skip dinners out and make coffee at home – to free up enough cash to meet your financial goals.
  • Learn from mistakes – If it took all year to pay for 2011’s holiday purchases, now is the time to learn from your mistakes. Take a look at how you addressed last year’s debt and figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes again this year.
  • Seek help – If holiday bills are too large to manage on your own, speak to a professional credit counsellor and find out what debt management options are available to you.

Overspending during the holidays doesn’t have to lead to the January blues. Setting goals, creating a budget and making small changes to spending habits can go a long way towards eliminated holiday debt. The tips and advice in Consolidated Credit’s Budgeting Made Easy and Shop Smart and Save guides can help consumers be financially healthy in 2013.

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