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January 18, 2022

How to rid yourself of the holiday spending hangover

They say today, Blue Monday, is the most depressing slot on the calendar.

Yet, despite all the theories why this is – we’re in the depths of winter, it’s only a few weeks until Valentine’s Day, etc. – no one ever mentions the holiday spending hangover.

As you’ve most certainly learned, this is the week many Canadians will receive their stack of holiday credit card bills. And, if you’re like the high percentage of consumers who typically carry a balance, you’re hip to the grim fact that these debts are soon due.

So, what to do if your December holiday spirit’s gotten you into a January holiday bind?

“This is a good time to jump-start your financial situation (and) recommit to making some good financial decisions,” Laurie Campbell, executive director of not-for-profit Credit Canada, tells the Globe and Mail.

“Interest rates are likely going to increase in mid-2010, so you want to take advantage of this low-interest-rate environment today.”

Campbell offers the Globe’s Roma Luciw a few tips for Canadians to get rid of that holiday credit card debt. Some of the highlights include:

1. “Get creative with your household bills” – Switching to a no-fee bank plan, she suggests, can save you about $300 a year. Renegotiating your cable/phone/Internet subscription can pocket about $400 a year, too.

2. “Budget is not a dirty word” – Evaluate your day-to-day life to find the usual excess-spending suspects. Bring lunch to work. Take public transit to avoid parking costs. Shop at a less expensive grocery store. That kind of stuff.

3. “Pay off the highest-interest credit cards first.” – A smart tip many Canadians forget. The bulk of those store credit cards you own carry a much higher balance than your traditional bank card. Retail cards, according to Campbell, carry an annual rate of about 28.8 per cent, much higher than the 19-20 per cent bank cards do. Make dumping store credit card debt a priority.

Campbell also points to just how dreadful carrying a balance for too long can be. If you only make the minimum payment on your card(s) each month, she notes, you’re actually paying more than three times the value of each purchase you make.

If you’ve carried a debt over from the holidays, how are you scrambling to get out from under it?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...