Millions suffer financial hangover from Christmas

The Salvation Army was among groups gathered at the London HQ of payday loan company Wonga yesterday. Picture: PA
The Salvation Army was among groups gathered at the London HQ of payday loan company Wonga yesterday. Picture: PA
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SIX million Britons are at risk of falling behind with their finances this month as expense hangovers from Christmas take their toll, research from the Money Advice Trust suggests.

One in eight of more than 2,000 people surveyed for the charity said they are likely to see their finances slip back in January as a result of Christmas spending.

This equates to six million people falling behind financially if the findings are projected across Britain.

Despite the number of people who expect to struggle, just one in 100 said they are “very likely” to ask for help with managing their money and tackling debts.

The charity, which runs the National Debtline, fears many households will leave it too late and see their financial position deteriorate further.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “Our New Year message is simple. If you are dreading the arrival of that first credit card bill in a couple of weeks, now is the time to act.

“Set a budget by working out how much you have coming in and how much you need to spend each month, and open all of your statements to get a handle on how much you owe.”

The charity has advised people to make financial resolutions for 2015 which include working out monthly income and outgoings, taking into account annual expenditure such as car insurance or road tax.

It also said compiling a list of all debts, together with the outstanding balances and repayment dates for each, was vital.

Finally, it said that anyone struggling with finances should seek free advice early rather than ignore the situation.

Last month a poll by the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland (DACS) revealed that more than one in ten Scots was still paying off Christmas 2013. More than a third (37 per cent) had borrowed or relied on credit to cover seasonal outgoings.

More than one in ten (12 per cent) respondents said they will need to borrow again to meet the costs of the festive season for 2014. Only around half (51 per cent) said they would be able to cover expenses from their earnings alone, the debt advice provider said.

DACS spokesman Ian Williams said: “Christmas can be the most expensive time of the year for many of us thanks to all of the present buying and food prep, as well as the travel many of us are expected to do. This might be why some Scots feel the only way they can afford to celebrate is by using credit.

“However, if you’re still repaying last year’s Christmas debt, borrowing more on top of that may put even more of a strain on your finances and make 2015 feel pretty gloomy.

“If you’re still repaying debt from Christmas 2013, rather than borrowing more this year it makes more sense to work out exactly what you can afford to spend and stick to that budget. If you need assistance with that process then consider seeking expert help with your debt.”

The OnePoll survey questioned 2,000 UK adults between 24 September and 3 October, of whom 636 were resident in Scotland.