Wondering what to do when holiday debt gets the better of you?

Options are available for those facing unmanageable debt.

An abundance of holiday spirit and gift giving can lead to serious financial strife in the New Year. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid a holiday debt disaster. Some top tips to help protect your financial security while shopping include:

  • Debit card use. When using a debit card to pay for purchases, it is wise to sign for the transaction instead of using a pin. If you choose to use your pin, be sure to cover the screen so that the terminal is blocked from view.
  • Credit card use. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be best to pay for purchases with credit cards. This provides a record of the transaction that can serve as evidence in the event of a dispute. Credit card purchases can also help build your credit score, as long as payments are made on time.
  • Smartphone purchases. Some stores allow consumers to make purchases using smartphone technology. If using this type of application, make sure that the operating system on the phone is up to date. This helps to better ensure the transaction is secure.

Even when security is protected, actual purchases may exceed initial intentions. When overall debt becomes too much to manage, there are options to help get debt under control.

Debt leads to disaster: When to consider bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is designed to help those who can no longer manage their debts have a fresh financial start. The right to bankruptcy was supported in 1934 in a Supreme Court decision, Local Loan Co. v. Hunt, stating that bankruptcy law:

[G]ives the honest but unfortunate debtor . . . a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.

As noted by the United States Courts, bankruptcy provides consumers with the ability to start fresh through the process of bankruptcy discharge. This process releases the consumer from personal liability for specific debts.

Different forms of bankruptcy are available. Determining which form, or chapter, is right is dependent on each individual's unique situation.

Digging out of debt: The importance of legal counsel

Whether considering filing for relief through bankruptcy or if you wish to pursue other debt management options, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced consumer debt attorney. This legal professional will review your situation and discuss the various options that could offer relief.