Don't Pay Off Holiday Bills Too Fast and Shortchange a Budget Due to a Credit Card Hangover

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The aftershock of overspending during the holidays, or throughout the year, can be cured, says Carrie Coghill Kuntz, director of consumer education for

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The month-after credit card bill shock is never worse than the one following the holiday season. It creates the "credit card hangover," according to Carrie Coghill Kuntz, director of consumer education for

Carrie offers this sage advice: "Don't become overly anxious about paying cards off immediately. It's more important that you don't shortchange your budget. If you do, you'll end up needing to use your cards again. This becomes a vicious cycle."

"Instead, use this energy to take control over your finances," she advises.

To help get people out of debt now and avoid a repeat hangover next year, Carrie has four credit card hangover cures:

1. Adjust the budget to spend less on discretionary items. This will allow disciplined monthly payments of credit cards that will enable them to get paid off within a reasonable amount of time.

2. Review purchases. If the hangover is holiday-related, create a monthly Christmas savings fund now so there is cash reserved in December to make holiday purchases and avoid a hangover next year.

3. Take advantage of the new 36-month payback information included on card statements. The Credit CARD Act, which goes into effect on February 22, requires credit card issuers to include information on each monthly statement that shows how much to pay back each month — including interest and fees — to erase current balances in 36 months. Use this new tool to better assess how to get out of debt responsibly.

4. Stop. Most importantly, make the decision to STOP using cards now.

About is a service that provides consumers with access to their credit scores, reports and monitoring. For more information, go to

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