Personal finance tips to get your debt on track in 2019

If you are feeling guilty or stressed about all the money you spend this Christmas, personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq has tips for a “Finance Detox” in 2019.

The holidays are almost over, but we will have one more thing to look forward to: the dreaded credit card bills.

A number of different surveys show Canadians likely went over budget shopping for their loved one this Christmas.


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If you’re the average Canadian shopper, a survey by PwC called the 2018 Canadian Holiday outlook, shows you spent $1,563 on holiday cheer last month. That amount is up 3.7 per cent from the year before.

A lot of that money was probably charged to a credit card and debt can be a huge source of anxiety.


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A new study by Manulife Holiday Debt Survey found, along with keeping us away from our big money goal, financial stress impacts our mental health.

Here are my tips to start tackling that holiday debt now:

Get real about your debt

You may owe money on your credit card, have a balance on your line of credit, or be late on a utility bill. It’s all debt and you have to start paying it down. Tally it all up, divide it by the number of months you think it will take to pay it off. Start by making the biggest payments on your highest interest debt while still making minimum payments on all your other debt.

Prepare for higher rates

Higher interest rates are possibly the biggest threat to Canadian finances in 2019. Forecasters said we could see several rate hikes by the end of the year. If you’re worried about your existing debt, go into a loan calculator now and see how rates one-two-three percentage points higher will affect your payments.

Return, swap or sell unwanted gifts

It’s not the world’s most polite thing to do, but hanging onto a gift you don’t want is a big waste of money. The second-hand market is thriving. Post a few pictures on a social media page and see if anyone could use that well-meaning gift. Better yet, take it back to store it was purchased and return it for cash or a gift card.

Make more money

Having a side hustle is no longer just for students and millennials. Canadians from all walks of life and all income brackets can benefit from making some extra money outside their main job. Find a part-time job once a week or use your unique skills to consult. Bringing in even a few extra hundred dollars will make a big difference to your ability to save and pay down debt.

Have a dry January

Many of us give up something in January. So extend that philosophy to your money by making and bringing your lunch, take public transit, and/or enjoy cozy nights at home. Even 30 days of living like this can save you a big chunk of change.

Finally, take care of you. Move more, eat better, and try to save a little more in 2019.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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