Six million Brits set to struggle with money in January
Over six million people are set to struggle with their finances in January as a result of excessive Christmas spending, a leading debt charity has warned.
The Money Advice Trust says it is expecting a "surge in demand" for its National Debtline advice service this month, after research suggests one in eight people are "likely to fall behind with their finances" due to festive spending.
It said three times as many people received debt advice online on Boxing Day 2014 compared to last year, rising from just 45 in 2013 to 157 in 2014.
Yet only one in a hundred people told the Money Advice Service they would be "very likely" to seek advice on managing money and tackling debts should they begin having problems.
The research, conducted by YouGov, also found that 23% of Britons will save earlier for Christmas 2015 than they did in 2014; while a third (34%) had to borrow money to pay for presents. Over a fifth (21%) bought Christmas food on credit.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "After a Christmas that millions of people put on credit, we are unfortunately expecting an increase in debt problems in the New Year. The fact that so many people went straight online for advice on Boxing Day shows how fragile many households feel their finances are going into 2015."
"More concerning, however, are the millions of people who may not seek advice at all, and thousands who will get off to a bad start to 2015 by turning to a fee-charging debt management company that only wants to make a profit out of their situation."
"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."
National Debtline offers free, independent and confidential advice 24 hours a day online at nationaldebtline.org and on 0808 808 4000.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.