Credit card debt levels certainly support that view. In a recent study, CardHub, a credit card comparison website, found that consumers were on track to take on roughly $48 billion in net new credit card debt in the fourth quarter, bringing new credit card debt accrued during 2014 to more than $60 billion. That's an increase of about 55 percent from 2013.
Jill Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for CardHub, said average household credit card debt is expected to hit nearly $7,200 by year end—just $1,200 shy of the average household credit card debt in 2008, when the financial crisis erupted.
"People are either not noticing how quickly and how much credit card debt is being racked up, or just kind of ignoring it," she said.
It would be one thing if all that spending brought us joy. But a study by BMO Harris Bank found that 32 percent of Americans regret how much they have spent over holiday seasons, and 11 percent expect to go into debt as a result of their spending.
Luckily, experts have a number of suggestions to help you get your finances back on track.
Making bad debt disappear first is typically at the top of the list. Your highest interest debt is probably on a credit card, so that is the debt to focus on first, Lyon said—particularly as the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate in 2015, which could mean higher credit card interest rates.
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Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, suggests setting a concrete goal for paying off debt.
"Many people piled new debt on top of old," she said. "Try to cull out the charges related to the holidays and commit to paying those off by the end of the first quarter of 2015. This will at least get you back to your preholiday spending level."
Changing payment methods may also help, said Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, head of U.S. retail banking at BMO Harris Bank. "If your credit card was your go-to during November and December, consider using only cash or a debit card in order to stop debt from continuing to accumulate."
CardHub's Gonzalez said the current low interest rates may be tempting some to stray from their budgets and make long deferred big purchases, but she cautions against that, particularly as rates may not remain so low. "Worry more about really paying off your debt as much as you can, and then making these big new purchases," she said.
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