Bank Notes

You enjoyed the holidays but, now that we are fully in January, you might be thinking about the debt that all that celebrating and gift-giving racked up. You're ready to start the New Year off on a positive foot, but you feel the debt dragging you down.

It's time to make a plan to help pay off that debt! Here are some tips to help you deal with your debt so that you can move on to planning for a great new year.

1. Shift Your Budget

Just because you have debt doesn't mean you have to cut out all the things you enjoy. Sometimes small shifts in your budget make a big difference.

Start by eating in more often. If you usually buy a lunch at work or go out for coffee or dinner with friends, bring a packed lunch of leftovers or invite your friends over for a potluck instead.

Try to cut down on how much you spend on groceries by combing through your cupboards and making meals using the things that have been sitting in your pantry for awhile. Not only will you reduce waste, but you'll also save yourself cash that you can put towards paying down your debt.

Another way to save money without feeling the sting is to call up your service providers and see if you can get a better deal on things like your cell phone and internet.

Finally, a great way to reduce your spending is to look through your credit card bills for what's known as 'grey charges.' These are recurring payments that you signed up for that you then forgot about. They might be gym memberships that rolled over after your one-year contract or digital subscriptions you no longer need. Cancelling payments like these is a great way to reduce your expenses without feeling the pain.

2. Sell Things You're Not Using

You and your family might have just gotten a bunch of shiny new stuff over the holidays--one way to make room for it all and help pay off debt is to sell some of your old stuff. Look around your home to see what you aren't using or no longer need. You can sell old furniture and other things on sites like Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or Kijiji.

If you have used designer clothing or accessories, you could take that into a consignment store. Got used books? Sell them on Amazon! Then take the proceeds of everything that you sell and apply it towards your debt.

3. Get a Side Gig

Finding ways to make extra cash will help you fast track your debt repayment. But what can you do? The first thing to consider is whether you can use your professional expertise to do consulting work. If you're an accountant and your employer is okay with it, you could freelance by offering bookkeeping or tax services for local small businesses.

You might also be able to tutor, teach a musical instrument, host a workshop or offer your services as an event photographer.

Are you crafty? Consider making things for your friends or selling your wares on Etsy. You can also sign up to drive for a car sharing service or offer services on an online site like Upwork.

4. Use the Debt Avalanche Method

When it comes to paying off your debt fast, it's important to focus on paying off the debt that has the highest interest rate first and then shifting to the debt with the next highest interest rate and so on. This is called the debt avalanche method and it's a highly efficient way to help repay your debt.

But, a lot of people find the debt snowball method to be easier to stick to. This method involves paying off your smallest debt first and provides you with a sense of momentum that might keep you engaged in your debt repayment since you get to experience an early win. But, this method will take longer and can cost you more money over the course of your repayment, but if it keeps you motivated it might be worth it.

The Bottom Line

Repaying your holiday debt shouldn't stress you out. Having a plan to repay your debt helps you feel empowered. If you take concrete steps in order to address it, you'll be able to pay it off as soon as possible. Once your debt is repaid, you might want to start putting money aside for the holidays next year so that you don't have to resort to going into debt again.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.