You know the feeling. You have a thumping head, a queasy stomach, maybe even have a slight case of the shakes. All you want to do is stay in bed with the covers over your head until the feeling passes. It’s not uncommon for people to overindulge around the holidays, but the distress you incur from maxing out your credit cards is the gift that keeps on giving all year.
Yes. I was referring to a holiday debt hangover. What did you think I was talking about?
For almost as long as this blog has existed, there are entries about holiday debt and the chaos it can wreak in your life. There are expectations surrounding the holiday season that are actually toxic to your emotional and financial health. When you spend yourself into debt, odds are that you will not be able to get out of it by the next holiday season. So instead, you dig that hole deeper every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every Hanukkah, and every New Year’s. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but the effects of debt are cumulative. The more debt that you accrue, the harder it is to get it paid down.
Let’s face it, Americans love their holidays. We spend, spend, and spend some more so that we can have a really good time with our family and friends. In 2019 it was expected that the average household would spend about $1500 overall. In fact, consumer spending for holiday gift-giving has grown steadily every year since 2008 – that’s not counting spending on holiday food, festivities, or travel.
In an era of influencers, reality TV, and “aspirational” brands with $600 sneakers and $12,000 handbags, there has been a warping of financial reality among many people who believe that they not only have to keep up appearances but that they have to give until it hurts. Nothing could be further than the truth, and those who love you would be the first to tell you that if you can’t afford it, don’t dig yourself into a hole to get it. If the people around you base their love on what you get them, they don’t love you as much as they love your generous gifts. Excessive spending is actually self-destructive, and it’s time to get a grip.
Dealing with a holiday debt hangover depends on the amount and types of debts that you have accrued. It’s very unusual that there is only one kind of debt in your life. Student loans, business loans, car notes, credit cards, and even medical debt can create devastating financial circumstances. The more complicated your debt picture, the more you need to consider getting professional help from a legal professional experienced in all forms of debt, methods to address it, and even bankruptcy. First, let’s look at some ways to knock down those debts, put a little extra cash in your wallet, and make the new year look like less of a grind.
Depending on what you have, there is always a place online to sell it. Let’s face it, people with expensive tastes have expensive stuff that other people with expensive tastes want. Believe it or not, there is even a thriving market in vintage handbags – take a look at these past sales at Christie’s – just put your credit card in an inaccessible spot before you do.
There are numerous places online to sell items at a good price instead of whatever you can get on Craigslist. In addition to eBay (America’s yard sale) and Etsy (for vintage and handmade), fashionistas can offload handbags, jewelry, watches, and fashion at sites like TheRealReal.com, Poshmark.com, and Tradesy.com. 1stDibs.com takes all of the above and also sells antique furniture and art.
There are everyday expenses that we don’t really think about, simply because we have them every day. One of the biggest expenses can be the money you spend eating out. You might buy lunch in the snack every day at work, spend on a really good brunch, and then there’s always a night out with friends for drinks and a late-night snack. Over the course of a month, that can really add up. Figure that – on the low end – lunch is going to cost around $11 every day. That’s $55 a week and $220 a month. On the high-end, lunch could cost as much as $25 a day and $500 a month. One way to save money is to make and bring your own lunches and snacks to work.
Another way to save on expenses is to make use of public transportation, carpooling, or even finding a bunch of like-minded coworkers nearby who would agree to share an Uber ride to get to and from work. For those who are commuting to Miami, the new Brightline train can cut hours off your commute, save wear and tear on your automobile, and save you lots of money on gas. As for what the savings can do for your holiday debt hangover, consider implementing the snowflake, snowball, and avalanche methods of paying down debt. Once you pass that first debt milestone, you’ll feel so much better and will be surprised how rapidly you’re able to pay down other balances.
At Van Horn Law Group, debt is our primary focus. We can offer you lots of great advice on how to get rid of that holiday debt hangover, or how to deal with debts that are overwhelming your ability to meet necessary expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, or even your health insurance. We are open Monday through Saturday and by appointment on Sunday, we welcome walk-ins, and your first consultation is absolutely free. Get in touch with us to get the advice you need in order to live the life you want – free of debt and worry all year, and the holidays will be happier than ever.
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