The next holiday is coming up: Panic Day. Here's how not to celebrate.

The holidays are over, but another lurks around the corner. This one doesn’t happen on the same day for everyone, and it’s not a time to celebrate. It’s a time when most Americans usually panic.

I call it Panic Day, and I invented it…

Happy Panic Day, guys! What is Panic Day? I admit it, it’s not a real holiday. But as a CPA and a financial counselor, I invented the term. I needed a name to describe the specific situation. You know what I’m talking about? That awful day when you receive your credit card bills in January.

Why is it a big deal? Because that’s when you see just how much you spent over the holidays. And it’s usually a huge number. Panic Day is terrifying, but it can also be wonderful. It can literally scare you out of debt. If you see those big balances in front of you and realize you can’t even pay off that debt until probably the next holiday season, then you need to make a call. Debt.com can hook you up and provide you with a Free Debt Analysis. You’ll learn all of the techniques for paying off that holiday debt. It’s Debt.com’s holiday gift to you.

Panic Day can actually be reduced to Panic Minute: Those few seconds where you open an email or a mailbox that contains your January credit card statement, with an eye-popping number next to the words PAYMENT DUE. That number includes all your holiday expenses.

From cheer to fear

After the initial panic comes a few seconds of a sinking feeling in your stomach, like your airline flight just dropped 1,000 feet in one scary moment.

The rest of the day is a depressing blur, interrupted with the same question repeating inside your skull: How the hell am I gonna pay this off?

The day after Panic Day isn’t any better. You start asking yourself the most devastating question of all: Can I even pay off this holiday debt before NEXT holiday season?

You might not think Panic Day would qualify as a national holiday. Oh, it does. Americans are carrying a record amount of personal debt. The statistics are staggering: More than 150 million of us have credit cards we haven’t paid off, for a total of more than $1 trillion in balances.

Couple that with overspending during the holidays, and Panic Day affects almost everyone. A few years ago, the credit bureau Experian polled 1,000 Americans and reported, “56 percent of those surveyed say they spend too much during the holiday season, while 55 percent say they feel stressed about their finances during the holidays.”

Obviously, that stress in December leads to panic in January. Fortunately, Panic Day is followed by Relieved Day. Unfortunately, Relieved Day only happens if you make it happen.

The antidote to Panic Day

January is the busiest month of the year for credit counseling. That’s understandable. Credit counseling sounds both boring and too good to be true. Why do I want to call a certified credit counselor to review my finances? How can nonprofit credit counseling agencies offer me a free debt analysis? What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. Starting with Panic Day, this is the busy season for credit counselors. They hear from panicked Americans who are scared sick about their staggering credit bills. They can explain several ways out of this debt, depending upon your circumstances. One of the most popular is called a debt management program, which can slash your monthly payments by up to 30 or even 50 percent.

Debt.com can hook you up with a nonprofit credit counseling agency that adheres to our Code of Ethics by calling 1-800-810-0989. If you don’t call us, call someone reputable. Check the Better Business Bureau to make sure they have an A-plus rating, make sure they’ve been in business for at least a decade or two, and read online reviews that say good things — because that’s what we do before we decide to recommend anyone.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of Debt.com.

Meet the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

CPA and Chairman

Dvorkin is the author of Credit Hell and Power Up and Chairman of Debt.com.

Credit & Debt, News

Dvorkin on Debt, winter holidays

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Article last modified on January 7, 2019 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Holiday Debt Stress: How To Beat It In One Day - AMP.