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Report shows 1 in 3 shoppers still hasn't paid off last year's holiday debt

Best Christmas Ribbon 2020
Posted at 5:47 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 08:34:26-05

Finance company Nerd Wallet reports one out of three shoppers still haven't paid off last year's holiday debt.

Even a pandemic and its impact on product supplies and prices aren't enough to hold back every shopper. But financial experts say, paying off purchases should be a big focus.

"It is is so easy to just use credit cards left and right and then have that reckoning when that bill comes," said Lisa Lee, Director of Licensed Financial Services with Wisconsin's Department of Financial Institutions.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows household debt is at $15.24 trillion, up $286 billion in the months July to September when compared to April to June.

Besides financial advisors, credit counseling companies are an option for those looking for help managing their debt and sticking to a budget. But Lee says it's critical you make sure the service is licensed with the state.

"We do have a list of licensed companies on our website. There are some fraudulent companies out there trying to convince consumers to sign up with them," Lee said.

Click here to see Adjustment Service Companies licensed in Wisconsin.

If you plan to manage your finances on your own, Lee suggests setting up a budget for holiday expenses -- add gifts, meals, entertainment, and travel and then stick to the plan. She stresses, if you're struggling to pay off current debt, you need to contact your creditors.

"You can describe the situation you're under and hopefully be able to come up with some sort of adjustment to your payment plan," she said.

"It doesn't hurt to get out in front of that situation and let the creditor know what's going on," she added.

Here's another way to help you manage your money. Financial experts say if a purchase is under $20, use cash. If you're not paying your credit card bill on time, you end up paying a lot more for that small purchase because of interest.

You could also set aside a dollar amount in cash at the beginning of the month.

"That's a budgeting tool that once that money is gone, you can attempt to hold off on those small purchases"

"Another practice that is helpful and that is a real eye-opener is to track every dollar you spend for one month time. Then go back and look at that and see where your money is going," said Lee.

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