DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent too much money on Christmas gifts, even though I promised myself that I would stick to a budget. Now I’m saddled with several thousand dollars’ worth of credit card bills exactly at the time when I wanted to be starting fresh financially. How can I change my habits given that I already messed up and the year is just starting? -- Becoming Debt-Free
DEAR BECOMING DEBT-FREE: Kudos to you for recognizing your folly. That is the first step to changing your behavior. Consider several options for clearing up your debt situation.
Since financial savvy is not your strong suit, get help. You may want to download a simple financial planning tracker app into which you log every penny you spend and why. You can get one that helps you to budget the resources that you have. For a listing of highly recommended apps, visit doughroller.net/budgeting/10-tablet-apps-that-manage-your-money.
For a small monthly fee, you can hire a bookkeeper to help you to get your affairs in order. Ask your friends or co-workers for recommendations. You can also find a financial adviser who will review all of your financial information and help you to get on course for a healthy financial future. The point is for you to get help from people who know more than you and who have the ability to help guide you to healthier behavior.
You may also want and need ongoing support. Consider joining Debtors Anonymous. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, you can go to free meetings for people who are struggling to manage their money and who come together to talk about their concerns and help one another make smarter choices. To find a meeting near you, visit debtorsanonymous.org.