An estimated 7.9 million people are expecting to fall behind with their finances this January as a result of Christmas costs, according to new research published by National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust.
The free debt advice charity has joined with the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) to issue a call for households to ‘make a plan’ for next Christmas.
The poll of more than 2,000 British adults, conducted by YouGov for National Debtline, found that 16 percent of Britons say they are likely to fall behind in January as a result of Christmas spending, an increase from 11 percent last year and equivalent to an estimated 7.9 million people. The findings come after 37 percent of Britons said they were putting Christmas presents on credit.
More than half of Britons (55 percent) said they had not saved for Christmas before December arrived, with only 14 percent reporting they had started saving up for the extra costs of Christmas before last summer.
Nearly a quarter (23 percent) say they are likely to start saving for Christmas earlier than they did last year – a figure that National Debtline and credit unions say should be much higher.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said:
“After the celebrations of the Christmas period, January is a challenging time for many households with the impact of festive spending taking its toll on household budgets. With millions expecting to fall behind with their finances in January, we want people to be financially prepared for the year ahead.
“At the start of this New Year, when resolutions are being made, I would encourage everyone to look at their personal finances and make a plan if they can for 2018 – set a household budget, look at joining a credit union in preparation for next Christmas and seek free advice at www.nationaldebtline.org if you are struggling to cope.
“Taking these first steps to make a plan for your finances can make a huge difference for the rest of 2018.”
Mark Lyonette, chief executive of ABCUL, Association of British Credit Unions Limited, said:
“Credit unions across the country help their members to save towards the costs of Christmas with dedicated Christmas savings accounts which lock funds away and make them available as the festivities approach.
“Even if you’re not in a position to start saving straight away, credit union borrowers are encouraged to save a small amount while they repay their loans – called Save as you Borrow – and recent research by the Fairbanking Foundation shows that 71% of borrowers become regular savers thanks to this approach.
“So if this year’s celebrations have left you with a financial hangover join your local credit union and make sure 2019 starts off on a better financial footing.”
3 New Year’s Resolutions from National Debtline and ABCUL
- Make a plan for 2018: Setting a budget is the single biggest step you can take to get on top of your finances. Sit down and work out how much money you have coming in every month, and what you need to spend. Don’t forget to account for annual expenditure, like car insurance or road tax, by dividing it through by 12.
- Join a credit union: Make a plan to start saving for next Christmas. You might not be able to start actually saving in January, but you can get ready by joining your local credit union, which is a great way to save for occasional costs. Many have dedicated accounts for Christmas, and by becoming a member, you can access affordable credit if you need to later. You can find your local credit union at www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk
- Deal with any debts you have now: Open all of your statements and get a handle on how much you owe. Write down a list of all of your debts, together with the outstanding balances and repayment dates for each. Remember that you are not alone in this. Free, independent advice is available from charity-run services such as National Debtline. The earlier you seek free advice, the quicker and easier your problem will be to solve.