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Dealing with holiday debt: What's the solution?

As we move further into the new year, many people are aware of the effects of the holiday season. For many people, this means focusing on their physical health to recover from holiday meals and others might take on their financial health by tackling debt accumulated during the holidays.

In a previous blog post, preparations for holiday spending and gift giving were discussed. Now that the holidays have passed and credit card statements are streaming in, there is a better idea of how much people spent during the holidays. As such, many families in Massachusetts might be looking for ways to tackle those bills and start 2014 in strong fashion.

According to a survey from the American Research Group, consumers across the country spent slightly less on Christmas gifts in 2013 than 2012, spending about $800 on average. Furthermore, polling data suggests that a majority of people -- 63 percent of Americans -- didn't have funds saved up for Christmas gifts. As such, much of that spending probably went on credit cards.

At first, people might plan a budget to pay back credit card bills in a timely fashion. These efforts, however, may not be enough for some individuals. When debt mounts to the point that it's unsustainable, people may have to look to other means of relief. One possibility is personal bankruptcy. Through this process, individuals can discharge debt from credit card usage and other expenses that have stacked up over time.

Clearing debt can be the perfect way to find a fresh start in the new year. This way, people can begin to rebuild their personal credit. Without strong credit, it can be difficult to make an investment in a home or other important assets. Taking time to address holiday debt might be the first step in returning to a point of overall financial strength.

Source:, "Good Question: How to pay down your Christmas debt," Jill Valley, Jan. 9, 2014

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