How to tackle holiday debt

The first step toward tackling holiday debt is making a budget

(CNN) – January can bring some cold, hard truth for consumers, as December’s holiday merriment translates into a mountain of bills.

The first step toward tackling holiday debt is making a budget; charting what income is coming in and which expenses have to be paid out, and how much is left to put toward debt.

To make real progress on the existing debt, you’re going to need to pay more than the minimum balance each month.

Start with the most expensive debt first. That’s not necessarily the card with the biggest balance. Look at which credit card has the highest interest rate and start there.

Also consider balance transfer offers; moving debt from a high-interest card to a zero-interest card, but only if you can pay off a balance before the introductory offer expires, and interest rates jump. In the meantime, try not to add any debt to your load.

Make some sacrifices for a few months until it’s under control; skip that morning coffee or those dinners out, and bring your own lunch to the office. Maybe even consider selling unwanted holiday gift cards to bring in some extra cash.

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