According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent $737 during the holiday season. That works out to $602.1 billion in spending during the months of November and December in 2013 – a 3.9% rise from year-ago levels.
While it’s fine to enjoy the pleasure of gift-giving, some consumers likely have gotten themselves into excessive debt that they simply can’t afford, according to experts from the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros).
“For all the joy it brings, the holiday season also happens to be the worst time of year for millions of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck,” says Judy Sorensen, president of ACCPros.
“They often over-spend, then after the holiday bills come due in January, many of those same Americans will inevitably wind up contacting a member agency of ACCPros for credit counseling help sometime in the New Year,” Sorensen notes.
Currently, credit counselors nationwide aid about 5.5 million Americans annually.
The professionals at ACCPros say there are “10 Warning Signs of Excessive Debt”:
1.You have credit cards that are maxed out or very close to their limits
2.You rely on credit cards for everyday purchases like groceries or gas
3.You can’t pay your credit card bills or meet all your financial obligations
4.You are reluctant to add up all your debts to see exactly how much you owe
5.You use credit card convenience checks to pay for other credit card bills
6.You have creditors or bill collectors calling you at home or work
7.You argue with your spouse/significant other about bills or spending habits
8.You have stress, anxiety or sleepless nights due to your debts
9.You have a low credit score due to missed payments or collection accounts
10.You get denied by banks when you apply for new credit
“If you have three or more of these warning signs, it’s time to get help managing credit and debt,” Sorensen says, adding that the New Year is a perfect time to make a fresh financial start.
The Association of Credit Counseling Professionals, ACCPros, is the credit counseling industry’s newest and fasted growing trade association. ACCPros hopes to distinguish itself from other associations by placing an emphasis on ethics and compliance and focusing on best practices, quality service, education, training, and professional ethics. ACCPros member agencies can be a great resource for consumers seeking help managing their debt. Call the toll-free ACCPros Locator Line at 800-635-0553 to speak with a certified credit counselor at an agency licensed/registered in your state.