Racked Up Credit Card Debt on Black Friday? Here's What to Do

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  • The temptation to spend on Black Friday can be huge.
  • It's important to tackle Black Friday debt quickly so it doesn't escalate.
  • Figure out how much you owe (including the interest you'll pay by carrying the balance), then aim to pay it off quickly by getting a side hustle or cutting back on other spending.

It's not a great situation, but it's certainly far from hopeless.

There's a reason so many people rack up credit card debt in the course of their Black Friday shopping. It's hard to resist the numerous deals that pop up during that 24-hour event (which, in recent years, has actually become a multi-day, or in some cases, multi-week event). 

But if you're now looking at a pile of debt as a result of your Black Friday shopping, it's important that you address it right away. If you ignore the problem and simply tackle your minimum payments month after month, your debt could end up costing you a lot more money than necessary over time. Here are a few key steps for handling your Black Friday debt -- and minimizing the damage it might otherwise cause.

Step 1: See if your debt is reasonably manageable

Maybe you've closed out Black Friday with a $600 credit card balance you now need to carry forward. That's not ideal. But a $600 balance is a far cry from a $2,500 balance, or a $4,800 balance. 

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If your balance is low enough that you can see yourself paying it off within a few months, then you probably won't have to worry too much about it -- as long as you don't add to it. If it's a higher number, though, you'll need to consider more drastic measures to address it, like slashing your spending immediately.

Step 2: See how much interest that debt is costing you

Credit cards are notorious for charging large amounts of interest, so unfortunately, even a relatively small balance could grow over time. Take a look at the interest rate attached to your credit cards. If it's really high, it could make sense to do a balance transfer, where you move your balances over to a new card with a 0% introductory rate. 

Step 3: See if there are any items you're willing or able to return

Black Friday didn't happen so long ago. And so if you're unhappy with the debt it's put you in, you may be able to reduce your credit card balances by returning items you're willing to part with. 

Granted, you may not be able to easily take gifts back to the store, since you'll need them for late December. But if you bought yourself some gadgets on Black Friday, you can always decide to return them and buy them again at a time when you can pay for them outright.

Step 4: Look for a side hustle that can help you earn money to pay off your debt

Even though we're well into the holiday shopping boom, a lot of businesses still need seasonal help to get through the remainder of the rush. It could pay to pick up a side hustle you work for a month or so, as you can use your earnings to get your credit card debt whittled down.

Step 5: Aim to cut back on post-holiday spending to chip away at your debt quickly

You may end up with some amount of lingering Black Friday debt as 2022 wraps up. It's probably not so reasonable to cut your spending in the coming weeks, when you're deep into holiday celebration mode. But in that case, pledge to reduce your spending in the new year to get rid of your debt as quickly as possible.

Black Friday debt is something that happens to a lot of people, so don't beat yourself up if that's where you've landed. At the same time, do your very best to eliminate that debt quickly so it doesn't cost you a lot more in interest. And also, once that debt is gone, start socking money away in your savings account so that by the time Black Friday 2023 rolls around, you'll have cash to tap for the purchases you'll inevitably want to make.

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