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HAVE you experienced the classic “holiday debt hangover?”

The Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said that this type of hangover is usually experienced during the months following the Yuletide season — when the shopping, parties and gift-giving have practically drained most of your financial resources.

Worry not, the FCAG has come up with another list of useful tips so you could wipe off your holiday debts and still look forward to a bright New Year:

• Conquer your fear and bravely face the situation.

The first step — and sometimes the most difficult — is to admit that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

 Assess the damage.

Gather all bills and receipts and tally up your debts.

 Make a serious plan and a firm commitment to pay off and clear all debts within a specific time frame or schedule.

 Pay debts as quickly as possible to prevent interest charges from ballooning and to protect your credit standing.

Resolve to pay debts as soon as possible.

Do not let them carry over year after year after year.

 Pay as much as you can.

Do not pay just the minimum amount due on your credit card statements.

 Prioritize debts.

Pay high-interest debts first while paying the minimum amount required on other debts.

This will lessen your overall interest payments and shorten the period of time it will take you to repay your total debt.

 Bust open your piggy bank.

The holiday debt situation can be classified as one of the rainy days that you have been saving for.

 Maximize windfalls.

If you have received a raise or earned extra cash, use them to pay off debts.

 Don’t pay credit with credit.

Avoid obtaining loans to pay off your credit card debts, for example.

 Keep or lock up your credit card for the time being to avoid using it further and accumulating more debts.

Use cash for purchases whenever possible.

 Go on a spending diet.

Trim the budget fat which may include limiting trips to the mall cafe, bringing lunch instead of eating out, or commuting to work.

 Sell some old stuff through the Internet or by holding a garage sale.

This is also one way of clearing up the clutter in preparation for the New Year.

 Go for debt restructuring.

Negotiate with banks and credit card companies for affordable payment terms or “paylite” schemes to help you pay off your debt.

 It would be wise to start planning for the next holiday season.

Put up a Christmas fund, do your shopping the whole year round, and take advantage of store sales.

Doing so would spare you from holiday panic and impulse buying, overspending, and suffering another round of financial hangover.

The FCAG said that the best advice it could give would be to stay positive.

Love and forgive yourself for these “mishaps” and learn the precious lessons that go with every life experience.

***

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Past articles may be viewed at http://speakingout.ph/speakingout.php

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