Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
💎 Reveal Undervalued Stocks Hiding in Any Market Get Started

How to cure a holiday debt hangover

Economy Jan 24, 2023 12:20AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Christmas shoppers walk along Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland, December 19, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Add to/Remove from Watchlist
Add to Watchlist
Add Position

Position added successfully to:

Please name your holdings portfolio

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The holidays are over, but hopefully you took away some lasting memories. Some of them were priceless and others came at a price.

For the latter, here is the bad news: it is January and the bill has come due.

Some call it the “holiday debt hangover,” and this year seems much worse than most. An ugly stew of inflation, record-high credit-card rates - and the fact that we had already spent like sailors earlier in 2022, even before the holidays - all spell trouble for our 2023 balance sheets.

“More than a third of Americans say they overspent this holiday season,” said Jill Gonzalez, senior analyst for the site WalletHub, which canvassed Americans for its Post-Holiday Shopping Survey.

Roughly $80 billion in credit card debt was added in the last quarter of 2022 alone, on top of the approximately $95 billion racked up in the first three quarters, according to Gonzalez.

"The last months of the year are typically those when people add the most debt, but it’s more than ever in the context of inflation," Gonzalez said.

Some other worrisome findings: A quarter of people say they already regret their holiday purchases. Meanwhile, 22% say it is going to take three months to pay off those holiday bills, 11% say six months, and 13% say it will take the whole year, by which time it will be Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa all over again.

That is what you call a vicious circle, made worse by the fact that many of us are living beyond our means anyway, holidays or not.

“When people go into holiday credit-card debt, it’s not like the expenses stop there,” said Tori Dunlap, author of the new book “Financial Feminist” and founder of the site “You put on another $200, and another $500, and suddenly you’re in a compound-interest hellscape that you can’t get out of.”

So how can consumers defuse a debt bomb and make sure it does not explode again next year? A few thoughts from the experts:


You might not know that your credit-card interest rate often ticks up along with federal rates. That means average rates have shot up to 19.85%, according to financial information site Bankrate, the highest on record.

Those sky-high interest numbers are not going to help you attack the debt principal. Think about shifting that debt over to a card where you will pay 0% for an introductory period.

“My favorites are the Citi Simplicity, the Citi Diamond Preferred, the BankAmericard and the Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) Reflect,” said Ted Rossman, Bankrate’s senior industry analyst. “They all offer 0% balance transfer terms up to 21 months, the longest on the market.”


If you are staring down the barrel of a few thousand dollars in debt, you are going to have to make some tough budgetary choices. Atlanta financial planner Niv Persaud recommends shifting monthly spending away from optional categories like entertainment or travel, at least for a while.

Other advice from Persaud includes selling or returning unwanted Christmas gifts and unsubscribing from shopping-related emails or newsletters, whose temptations will only make the problem worse.

If possible, devote more hours to your side hustle, for an additional income stream to help chip away at what you owe, Persaud said.

If the spending cuts or additional work seem daunting, “remind yourself it's only temporary until you get your credit card debt to $0,” she said.


Money is a complicated subject that dredges up a lot of emotional stuff: one's upbringing, family relationships, feelings of self-worth and so on. To figure out why you are going into holiday debt, you may have to do that hard emotional work, Dunlap said.

“Start with why this is happening in the first place. Do you think that 'Unless I purchase expensive gifts for my partner, they are not going to love me?' That’s not a financial issue - that’s a partnership issue,” Dunlap notes.

To take some of the spending pressure off yourself, think back to your own childhood holidays, and what was important and what was not. Odds are it was not about money.

“For kids to have a great Christmas, it’s all about the memories created,” Dunlap said. “Trust me that they’re not even going to remember any of the toys.”

How to cure a holiday debt hangover

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your profile, will be public on and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Steven ML
Steven ML Jan 24, 2023 1:09AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Don't spend money you don't have. Duh....
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email