Saturday, December 9, 2023

Experts warn about digging deeper into credit card debt for holiday shopping

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As North Texans gear up to spend big money for Black Friday this week, new data shows Americans are digging themselves deeper into credit card debt.

According to the National Retail Federation, people are spending more this holiday season than last – an average of $874 on gifts, despite the pinch from higher prices and inflation these past two years.

Credit card debt in the United States has reached an all-time high of over $1 trillion. That’s a $154 billion spike from last year, the largest debt increase since 1999.

Experts say rising interest rates, rising costs of goods, and the struggling economy have made it harder for more people to pay off existing debt and therefore push more into credit card use to cover expenses.

Experian – one of the big three credit bureaus – did a recent survey that sheds more light on this. About 56% said they would use cash on holiday purchases and 46% said they would use credit.

Experian experts said it’s important for folks to budget this season.

“The thing that gets us into trouble at the holidays with credit is impulse buying,” said Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Public Education for Experian. “So if you have a list, check that list. If it’s not on the list, either don’t buy it or go revisit your budget. Make sure you can make it work. Talk to your family about expectations and where you are now.”

If you need a credit card debt battle plan ahead of the holidays, experts suggest:

  • Call your credit card company to negotiate interest rates down. They might play ball not to lose a customer.
  • You can also consolidate your debt with another company for a better introduction rate.
  • Roll it into a personal loan, which typically offer lower rates.

“Let’s figure out how we can have a wonderful holiday season without spending too much, without taking on more debt. Because the New Year isn’t so happy and jolly when you get that bill in January and you spent too much during the holiday season,” said Griffin.

Here are some good resources in North Texas to take advantage of – these organizations and nonprofits offer financial literacy classes and other free programs to help families find economic stability. Click the links below for more information and how to get signed up:

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