Many holiday bills are shipped before "Blue Monday," the third Monday in January -- what some social scientists bill as the "most depressing day of the year."
Blue Monday or not, this year, TransUnion estimates that consumers will experience $131 billion in sticker shock, also known as the amount shoppers will spend using their credit cards this month.
That's a big number, suggesting Americans are back to overspending during the Christmas season and will be back to opening fat credit card bills come January.
It doesn't have to be that way, experts say. Even with one week left in the year and in the holiday spending timeframe, there are still myriad ways credit card users can cut spending and reduce that January bill. That helps keep any unfortunate stress out of the repayment phase of the holiday shopping experience.
"Consumers need to be forward thinking to ensure credit card debt doesn't last well into the new year," says Penelope Graham, an editor at RateSupermarket.ca, a Canadian credit card services firm. "By carrying the wrong credit card, [consumers] could be losing out on hundreds of dollars in potential rewards and those prone to carrying a balance are at risk of lasting debt damage from these expenses."