Get Out of Debt Guy

The bills are coming, the bills are coming

Posted January 15, 2013
Updated February 6, 2013

Holiday debt.

Every year the December holiday bills arrive, and some people do an awesome job of surviving them without debt, but others get a big January surprise when the bills roll in.

It doesn't have to be the end of the world, even though it might feel like it.

Let's talk about what to do after you open all the bills and how to prepare to survive next year without holiday debt.

Considering bankruptcy? Consider this Debt Guy offers calm, free advice

If you want to take the most recent round of bills as a lesson, let's look at it as great research on how to prepare for next year. The first thing to do is add up what you spent this year on holiday gifts and divide that number by eleven. For example. If you spent a total of $1,100 on holiday bills and divide than by eleven you'd wind up with $100.

That $100 is what you'd need to set aside each month to be fully loaded with money to pay for a similar amount of gifts next year. It's a lot easier to find $100 a month throughout the year than $1,100 in January.

You can set that amount up as an automatic debit from your checking account and have it put in a savings account at your bank. Many banks offer this convenient solution as part of their online banking services.

Tackling holiday bills with budgeting makes perfect logical sense to do better moving forward, but there's another component you need to be aware of as well. A lot more people than you imagine wind up blowing their holiday spending budgets because they shop emotionally rather than logically. Their DNA just seems to make them not motivated or able to budget and prepare.

Unconscious emotional spending or guilt spending is the leading cause of overblown holiday bills. All I ask is that when you dive head-first in for holiday spending again that you simply be consciously aware of why you are spending the amount that you are. Awareness leads to clarity, and clarity leads to a better chance at affordable spending. You might still blow the budget, but you'd be a whole lot closer to what you targeted as your affordable limits.

But let's say the holiday bills are rolling in this year and they are unaffordable. The first thing I need for you to do is not panic. Breathe.

Because of fear of the amount of debt, people make silly knee-jerk decisions all the time when they have a moment of financial panic. They instead lurch at the first solution they perceive as a magic bullet, rather than addressing their overall financial situation.

There are a lot of good ways to deal with financial surprises, but in general people are not aware of them because they just are not experienced in how to deal with debt until they learn from an unexpected financial surprise.

But don't worry. I'm here to help you with advice for free! You can use the comments below to ask a question or offer advice on your own. I will address your questions here on the blog.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt Guy

3 Comments

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  • tnoel374 Jan 17, 4:07 a.m.

    Debt is part of living, that is the catch word (living) not entertaining one self. It's hard to balance that concept, most people love going out, or buy things to entertain themselfs. With all the holiday's, sporting events, places to go, things to see and do, we forget living. Living comes with a big price tag, buying a car, buying a home, or renting, gas, food, power bill, phone, internet service, taxes. If your in a min. wage job you can't afford to entertain yourself, or anyone else. People will still find ways to do both. 40 years ago everbody we knew was broke, but we (lived), and played (entertained) ourselves with out the use of money. Now people think that they can have the newest of everything, wrong one the bill comes. So best thing to do is get your mind right, walk out of the house with only 5 dollars in your pocket. Find out if can go through the whole day on 5 bucks. Living & Entertaining yourself and other's. It can be done.

  • steverhode Jan 15, 5:42 p.m.

    Before we know the best tool to use to deal with the debt we have to match it with the situation. Considering the fact you are retired and on a fixed income, my gut reaction is that an extended payment plan would make no logical sense. It will drain what little income you have coming in and if you have extra income it's more important to build an emergency fund than pay it out.

    I'd suggest that before you rush to do anything you talk to a local bankruptcy attorney. You can click here -> http://bankruptcy.getoutofdebt.org and that you use the online get out of debt calculator at http://getoutofdebt.org/resource/the-amazing-how-to-get-out-of-debt-calculator

  • jimmylinn Jan 15, 5:17 p.m.

    Debt has been our problem for many years. Now as retired on a fixed income we are in over our heads with secure and unsecure. I have been researching trying to find out the best way to go. We used debt management years ago and got in good shape but find we are back again. Should we try DMP again or check out bankruptcy. If the economy was better we have things we could sale but not now. What do you think of the wage earner bankruptcy?

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.