Just in time for the end of year spend-a-thon that is the holidays in the United States, many Americans are still grappling with the debt they took on a year ago, a new report from CNBC and WalletHub says.
The WalletHub survey revealed the result of an online survey taken by nearly 250 respondents:
- Skipping Presents: More than 1 in 3 Americans are foregoing gifts this year due to inflation.
- Lingering Holiday Debt: Nearly 1 in 4 Americans still have holiday debt from last year.
- New Credit Card: Nearly 1 in 5 people will apply for a new credit card to help with holiday shopping.
- Inflation Impacting Charity: Nearly half of Americans say their charitable giving is affected by inflation.
- Reduced Holiday Spending: 28% of people will spend less than last year on their holiday shopping.
- Social Media Influence: 23% of Americans are planning to make a holiday purchase based on social media.
This year, taking on debt could become even more of a problem due to raised interest rates.
As of November, the mean interest rate on credit cards has surged from approximately 16% to almost 21% since the Federal Reserve embarked on a series of interest rate hikes in March 2020 aiming to counteract inflation.
Ted Rossman, Bankrate’s senior industry analyst, said: “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
“Even a more modest $1,000 balance (from last year’s holiday gifts, perhaps) would keep someone in debt for 40 months and cost them $390 in interest if they only make minimum payments at [the current average rate of] 20.72%,” he added.
CNBC offered up suggestions for avoiding more debt this year, telling readers to make a list of the items they want to buy and stick with it – no add on items.
Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst, added: “If you go in knowing exactly what you’re looking to get, you may be less likely to succumb to the urge to make those budget-wrecking impulse buys.”
The article also suggested using current credit card rewards to offset some new costs.
“It’s best to use a credit card like a debit card: paying in full to avoid interest, but taking advantage of credit cards’ superior rewards programs and buyer protections,” Rossman added.
And finally, the report suggests sharing your money issues with family and friends, especially if you’re going to have a smaller budget this year.
“Being vulnerable enough to share your story with them and helping them to understand what you’re facing can help relieve some of that pressure you feel to spend too much,” Schulz said.
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