CLEVELAND — We're just 5 days away from Christmas, but there's still plenty of time to rack up holiday debt. In fact, a report from Magnify Money says last year the average shopper went more than a thousand dollars over budget. And for many, it could take months to pay down that tab.
One shopper told us, "I’ve even gone so far as to actually get a loan for my Christmas shopping.”
But there are some crafty ways to cut down that credit card bill. Take it from someone like Amanda Sharratt. She and her husband were in the hole for $140,000 dollars after college.
"We financed a TV. Couches. We weren't afraid of debt," she said.
Three and a half years later, after working with finance guru Dave Ramsey, they don't owe a dime. And Amanda now blogs about saving money.
One way she broke free from debt was by selling stuff on online…everything from purses and car speakers, to a motorcycle.
"They might think it's $20 or $50 dollars…’what's that going to do for my debt?’…especially if they have a lot of debt. But the reality is, how did we get into debt? Probably the $20, $50 or $100 dollar purchases at a time," she explained.
That strategy scored her several thousand dollars.
Another way to bust those bills: Turn frequent flyer rewards or credit card points into cash.
And if you use American Express, their pay-it, plan-it option lets you pay off larger purchases over time, with an interest-free installment plan. There's a small monthly fee, but you'll likely still come out ahead.
You can also drive down debt, with little effort, by using an app called Qoins. You link it to your bank account, and it rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, then applies that cash to your debt. The app costs $1.99 a month, but the fee comes from what you saved...not your credit card.
Amanda says, "Any extra money you can get and throw at your debt is really good. Because honestly, the sooner you get out of debt the sooner you’re not paying that interest rate.”
Finally...how about cashing in on some of the $42 billion dollars in unclaimed funds that have been turned over to the states.
Type in your name at www.missingmoney.com to see if you have cash coming.
Last year we found some of our viewers hundreds of dollars. And free money to pay down your debt, that's a gift with no price tag.
Now what you should never do to handle holiday debt, or any debt for that matter, is take out a payday loan. Because here in Ohio, those interest rates are more than double the typical credit card and some studies have shown only 14% of people can ever pay them off.