It is said that almost one-third of consumers nationwide, including in Wisconsin, accumulate debt over the holidays each year. In fact, financial professionals say many people are still paying off credit card debt from the 2013 and 2014 Christmas seasons. January is the time when debt repayment plans are typically made to pay off holiday debt, and there is never a lack of suggestions to achieve this; however, some plans may worsen the situation.

Some of the methods that have proved to be effective include an assertive plan to start paying off the cards with the lowest amounts, typically creating a feeling of achievement that encourages the person not to give up. Alternatively, some believe that getting rid of the amounts that carry the highest interest rate is more effective. Another option is to transfer a credit card balance to a card with zero percent interest. This can remove a significant chunk of debt, but if the consumer is unable to pay off the full amount within the limited time of zero percent, penalties and interest on the balance may be high.

Cutting back on expenses can create extra funds to pay toward credit card debt, even as little as $10 extra per month can make a difference, and if tax returns can be used toward debt payments, it may provide additional relief. Some may decide to avoid similar problems in future seasons by determining how much they spent during the recent holiday season and dividing that amount by 12. They then undertake to put away that amount monthly to be prepared for the next Christmas.

However, if a consumer’s debt situation is dire enough to start considering using retirement savings or taking out payday loans, it may be time for more drastic solutions. Wisconsin consumers may benefit from gaining knowledge about the protection offered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and the advantages of filing for personal bankruptcy. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can explain the qualification requirements for the different bankruptcy chapters, and how credit card debt can be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or how a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan can be filed.

Source: wptv.com, “Top 5 ways to get out of holiday debt”, Mike Trim, Jan. 10, 2016