(TORONTO, ON) – The tree is gone; the decorations are put away; your New Year’s financial resolution has been set – and now you wait to see the reality of your holiday spending frenzy. That’s right – Your holiday bills are in the mail.
While Canadian’s brace themselves for the debt disaster that is the post-holiday credit card bill, TransUnion has released a survey that indicates almost half (46.7 per cent) of all Canadians plan to stick to their financial resolutions this year – with a quarter making it a priority to pay down debt.
Unfortunately, Canadians are not very good at keeping these resolutions. In fact, TransUnion reports that 37.3 per cent of Canadian consumers did not reach their financial goal in 2013.
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada believes that the post-holiday sticker shock has a lot to do with these failed resolutions.
“As far as New Year’s resolutions go, we do a great job in making debt repayment a priority,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit. “Unfortunately, for many consumers the January credit card statements can be overwhelming – causing them to toss aside lofty resolutions in order to simply make ends meet.”
Before your holiday credit card bills have a chance to throw your finances into a free fall, Consolidated Credit offers these tips to help consumers maintain their financial resolutions and pay down that pesky holiday debt:
Stop spending – Put your credit cards away and don’t make your problems worse by adding more debt.
Assess the damage – You can’t commit to a financial resolution without knowing how much you owe. As your holiday bills begin to arrive take the time to sit down with them to determine how much you owe and where your spending got out of control.
Start paying your balances today – Don’t wait for that dreadful day when the bills arrive in your mailbox. Start putting extra income towards your balances today. Use additional cash flow (holiday gifts, year-end bonuses) to make a dent in your holiday debt.
Budget – It’s impossible to tackle debt without a plan. A budget gives you a financial snapshot of where you stand today so that you can plan for expenses, debt repayment and savings in the months ahead.
Increase your monthly payments – If you are only making the minimum payments on your debts it will take years to pay them off. The more money you put towards the balances, the faster you will pay them off and the less you will pay in interest.
Ask for a lower interest rate – If you have a good history with your creditors, ask them to lower your interest rate. The worst case scenario is they say no.
Ask for help – If you’re just too overwhelmed by the debt you accumulated over the holidays, than ask for help. A trained credit counsellor or other financial professional can help you assess the damage and help you determine the best debt reduction strategy for your unique financial situation.
If you’ve experienced difficulties keeping your financial priorities on track, don’t wait another year to try again. The Budgeting Made Easy guide can help you keep your resolutions and your finances on track throughout 2014.
For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact: