January is traditionally the month when most of us get the bad news about our festive spending when our credit card statement arrives.

If you are having trouble keeping your credit card balances under control you’re in the same boat as thousands of others. The good news is that once you choose to change your spending habits, it is possible to manage your debt.

The following tips may stop you sinking deeper into debt and help you regain control of your finances.

If you only pay the minimum monthly amount it means paying off your balance could take ages.

Plus, the interest rates (10-29%) credit card companies charge will keep your bill growing every month. Pay as large a payment as you can afford. Whenever possible, try to reduce your spending in other areas to focus on paying off your credit card debt. This will help keep compound interest from working against you.

Your monthly necessities should be paid by your monthly income. Keeping required purchases like groceries and utility bills off of your credit card is a major step towards getting your spending under control. There’s no need to incur interest charges on necessary items that should be covered by your wages.

A cash advance from an ATM will accrue interest the minute the advance is taken – unlike regular credit card purchases, there is often no grace period. An automatic fee of 2-4% is also charged on the amount of the cash advance in addition to a higher interest rate compared to your regular credit card balance.

Ignoring your credit cards bills may seem like a solution but it’s a bad idea because the interest you’re incurring will cause the balance to grow. Missing a payment or two may also cause the interest rate to increase. It can also spur debt collectors into action and you definitely don’t want to be on their radar.

Cleaning up your credit card debt takes time and self control, but the steps outlined here aren’t difficult. There’s no reason that credit cards can’t be a helpful, convenient tool – assuming you can learn to use them sensibly and responsibly.