Thursday, December 27, 2007

Don’t Let Your Holiday Debt Last Longer than it needs to:

With holiday spending over, our debt recovery time may just be starting. Our credit card bills will start arriving in the mail soon. Recent stats by the National Retail Federation show that the 2007 holiday season got off to a record start with “Black Friday” sales by US shoppers rising 8.3% to a record $10.3 billion. Figures for the following “Cyber Monday” shopping holiday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, also showed a healthy increase with a new one-day record of over $700 million in total purchases.

It is too bad that most of the record consumer spending was paid through the use of credit cards. Most consumers, including me, don’t hesitate to place $300 in goods on a credit card but certainly would think twice if they were forced to purchase the same amount of goods solely with cash? Because of this it is no surprise that the average credit card debt per US household is expected to rise again in 2008 as it has every year since the early 1990’s.

What will this increased spending mean for the New Year? According to John Silva, chief economist for Wachovia, “(Consumers) will still be spending money (in 2008) but it will be on credit card interest and minimum payments, not on apparel or eating out.”

So what’s the average consumer with thousands of dollars in credit card debt to do in 2008? Consider these five suggestions to get your debt under control in the New Year:

1. Reduce your card interest rate - Hawthorne members can now qualify for great rates and Reward points when they transfer balances between February 1 and March 31, 2008.

Visa Platinum Reward Cardholders receive 2,500 bonus points on balance transfers .**
Visa Platinum Savers credit card - 3.99% APR* for 9 months on balance transfers.
Visa Classic credit card6.99% APR* for 9 months on balance transfers.

Click here for more information.

2. Stop Using the Cards - seems simple enough? Stop using the cards now and stop accumulating more debt on top of the debt you couldn’t afford in the first place.

3. Pay more then the minimum – For example if you have $5,000 in credit card debt with a 16% interest rate and a minimum monthly payment of $110. Did you know that just paying the minimum means it takes 25 years to pay off your debt and that $5000 debt will end up costing you $12,000 in total? This total includes an extra $7,000 that you will have to pay in interest. A good alternative would be to DOUBLE your minimum payment to $210 and pay off the card in 28 months, which will save you about $6,100 in interest.

4. Consider a Debt Management Program - If you have over $5,000 in debt then a debt management program may be for you.
Hawthorne’s Balance Financial Fitness debt management program can help.

*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. **Minimum balance transfer of $1,000.00. Also offering 1 bonus point per dollar of balance transfer up to a maximum of $10,000.00.

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