WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With the holiday season ramping up so does credit card debt and with record inflation, that also means paying off that debt will become more expensive.
This Christmas, Chris Johnson from Enfield is looking forward to putting presents under the tree for his 14-month-old grandson… within reason.
“Even though his parents are telling me ‘no, no, no, no,’ yes, yes, yes, yes. It’s the first grandson of the family so the kid’s going to be spoiled with toys,” said Johnson.
While this can be a time of giving, giving too much can put you in debt. Martin Lynch is the Education Director at Cambridge Credit Counseling. He said their busy season kicks in right after the holidays when credit card bills arrive. However, this year that doesn’t have to be the case.
When it comes to staying to a budget, Martin Lynch recommends that you do exactly what Santa would do, make a list, “If you have one in place that’s accurate then you can much more easily avoid taking on too much debt.”
This year, sticking to that spending plan is more important than years past. We’ve seen decades of high inflation, and one of the ways the Federal Reserve combats that is by raising interest rates. Which means credit card debt is more expensive.
According to Bankrate, the average annual rate for credit cards has reached 19.2 percent, that’s the highest since they started collecting data in 1985. Still, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows Americans’ are having to swipe their cards at record rates.
Credit card debt increased by 15 percent over the last year, the largest increase in more than 20 years. So if you are one of the millions who have credit card debt, how do you get out of it?
“Look at the total debt you’ve got and we’ll create a strategy to repay that over two to three months if possible. It all depends on your resources and your other legitimate expenses,” said Lynch. He added you may want to look into a debt management plan.
Here are some ways to help get a handle on those finances:
- You can call your credit card company, they may be able to reduce how much you owe or the interest rate.
- Set up a budget plan and pay more than the minimum balance. To give you an idea of how important the last one is if you owe about $5,500, and you only make minimum payments at 19.2 percent, it would take you 16 years to pay it off. You would then pay more than $7,000 in interest alone.