Holiday Debt Giving You the January Blues? Here’s What You Can Do

January 5, 2018 | by Katie Claflin

Categories: Financial Education, Homeownership, Housing Counseling, Savings

The holidays can be an expensive time of year. Gifts, travel and food expenses add up fast, and if you're like many Americans, your January credit card bill could be larger than you expected.

Want to know how your holiday debt compares to others? According to an annual survey conducted by MagnifyMoney, consumers who said they went into debt over the holiday season accumulated an average of $1,054 in debt. This represents a 5% increase over the amount of debt incurred during the holidays in 2016.

Here are some additional findings from the survey:

  • 44% of shoppers took on more than $1,000 in holiday debt, with 5% of shoppers accumulating more than $5,000 in holiday debt.
  • 64% of those with holiday debt didn’t actually plan to acquire it.
  • About 50% of those surveyed expected to pay off the debt within three months, and 29% indicated they would need five months or longer to pay off the debt.
  • And finally, 10% of people surveyed indicated they would only make minimum payments to pay down their debt.  Note: assuming a credit card balance of $1,054 and a minimum payment of $25, it would take until 2023 to fully pay off the credit card.

While the reality of holiday debt can be scary, the good news is that there are housing and financial counselors who can help you pay down your debt quicker.  Paying off your debt earlier will not only save you money in interest charges, but it will help you get back on track with long term financial goals, such as buying a home.

A 2016 study produced by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) demonstrates how financial counseling provided by trained nonprofits can help consumers tackle their debt faster. When measured over an 18 month period, the 6,000 consumers that received financial counseling decreased their credit card debt by nearly $6,000 and their total debt by nearly $9,000.

In comparison, the consumers who did not receive counseling reduced their credit card debt by only $3,600, while their total debt actually increased slightly during the 18 month period. 

So if your New Year’s resolution is to buy a home or achieve other financial goals, we recommend contacting a nonprofit housing and financial counselor to help you pay down your debt and get your finances back on track. You can find a nonprofit counselor in your area by visiting TSAHC’s Texas Financial Toolbox website at

On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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