BBB offers tips for managing holiday debt


By John North

Better Business Bureau

DAYTON — The holidays are a great time to snag deals to give your friends and family. In fact, more than 200 million shoppers came out for Thanksgiving weekend sales in 2023. There’s a large number of Americans who suffer from holiday debt, even those who prioritized using money on hand to pay for holiday expenses and being budget conscious. According to PR Newswire, half of American consumers expected to take on debt to pay for the holidays, including 37% who believe it will take them two or more months to pay off the bills.

If you’re among those struggling with holiday debt, the Better Business Bureau offers these tips:

· Set a budget or adjust an existing one. You may find extra funds as you dig into what you’re spending money on. In addition, you may eliminate non-essential spending which can help you pay off your debt faster.

· Contact your credit card company about a hardship plan to see if it can lower your credit card’s interest rate.

· Don’t use your credit cards to deepen your debt. Pay with cash or a debit card.

· Look for ways to save money to put towards your debt by using coupons or discounts, cash back, points or travel rewards and spending less on impulse buying.

· Review outstanding credit card balances and interest rates. Tackle high-interest rate balances first by paying more than the minimum payment monthly until the balance is paid. But, don’t stop paying on lower-interest cards.

· Use unexpected cash (a gift, raise or tax refund) to make extra payments on balances.

· Plan for next year’s holidays by saving money now and opening a holiday account through your financial institution.

· Consider applying for a balance transfer credit card. These cards offer 0% interest on balances transferred from other cards, for a limited time. It’s not unusual to find cards offering no interest for 18 months or more on balance transfers. This gives you time to tackle your debt.

· Consider a second job to pay off debt.

If you’re unable to manage your financial situation, a credit counseling agency can help teach you how to manage your money and assist in negotiating payments with creditors. They can also put you in a debt management plan, which allows you to make one payment to the agency.

For more information about hiring a credit counseling agency, visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. BBB can provide a list of BBB Accredited credit counseling agencies and Business Profiles on ones you may be considering.

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