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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Taking control of holiday credit card debt

Good morning – thought I would chime in on the Plan Well, Retire Well Blog .


I am an University of Illinois Extension Educator, as Karen mentioned in her last blog,and I work out of the Champaign Center. The other morning at 6:30 a.m. (yawn!), I was live on TV at WICD Channel 15 talking about credit card debt leftovers from the holidays. I had a TOTAL of 2 minutes and 20 seconds to say all my pearls of wisdom, and as usual, felt like I hadn't had time to say anything worthwhile. (Those TV people have a tough job!) So, this is what I wanted to say ...


After the holidays, take time to organize your credit card debt and get a handle on where you stand.

  • Don't ignore your bills – as much as we'd like to, this really doesn't help!
  • List all your debt, due dates, and minimum payments.
  • Make a plan to pay your debt on time, and try to pay more than the minimum due.
  • Decide which bills you want to target and pay off first. Do you want to get rid of the ones with the highest interest rate (a rational choice) or would you feel better paying off some small bills and getting them off your mind (another good strategy)?
  • Stop using your credit cards while you're working to catch up with debt.
  • Stick with your plan and you can do it.

For more information about getting a handle on your credit, read the Credit Card Smarts fact sheet, "Get Rid of Credit Card Debt." Also, visit the PowerPay website for a super calculator that will let you play with different scenarios for paying off your debt. The numbers may surprise you ... and motivate you to get going with your payments!

Good luck with your plan!

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