• Stop using credit cards. Put your credit cards away and pay with cash or a debit card to avoid going further in debt.
• Make extra payments whenever possible. Use extra cash, such as a gift, raise or tax refund to make extra payments.
• Ask creditors to reduce interest rates or provide a new payment schedule. Discuss the challenges you are facing and assure them you’ll remain a loyal customer. With a good credit score, you can also lower your interest rate by transferring balances to a low-rate card.
• Avoid quick fixes. Many are scam artists who will take advantage of you.
• Consult a professional. A credit counseling agency can teach you how to manage your money and assist you in negotiating payments with creditors.
• Start saving for next year. Put away a little extra cash for next year’s holiday season. Consider opening a holiday account with your financial institution.
Struggling with holiday debt is stressful, and it can take over the New Year if not handled. Start early and tackle credit card debt with a specialized plan. If you are considering professional help, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses and Business Profiles on ones you're considering.
John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.