SEATTLE - While the flurry of holiday spending may be good for the economy, it can prove to be exactly the opposite for an individual or family struggling to pay for necessities. In response to a new survey
, one in four people said they'll need more than three months to pay off what they charged as holiday expenses.
Melody Bell, executive director of Financial Beginnings, a nonprofit group that teaches money-management skills, says a new year means a new chance to get on track with a monthly budget, which starts by defining financial goals for the year.
"It's such a hassle sometimes writing out the budget. But really, statistic after statistic has shown that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we write out a plan. And it's not enough to just say, 'I resolve to have no debt this year.'"
In another pre-holiday survey
from the American Research Group (ARG), people said they'd spend an average of about $850 this year on the holidays, up from almost $650 last year. Bell suggests ending 2012 with this question: "What can I realistically do to improve my financial situation in the coming year?" And make the 2013 budget with that in mind.
Ellen Harnick, senior policy counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending, says one in eight Americans carries more than $10,000 dollars in credit card debt. She thinks part of the solution to holiday overspending involves family dynamics, and honest conversations about getting the budget and the expectations in line.
"Anyone who you love enough to be out there shopping for a gift for does not want you to take on a debt obligation that's going to put you in financial peril for the rest of the year."
Harnick says January is the time to add a category to the family budget, putting away a little money each month to fund the 2013 holiday spending without going into debt.
The ARG holiday spending survey is at AmericanResearchGroup.com
. The myFICO.com report is at Blog.myFICO.com