1 Million People to Struggle Repaying Post Christmas Debt

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19th January 2014 is Blue Monday when the post Christmas debts hit. 42% of people felt pressured to spend more than their budget on Christmas and 1/3rd would have cancelled Christmas if they could, says Debt Support Trust.

Debt Infographic

Christmas Unwrapped

1 million Brits will struggle with post Christmas debt

• 17% of people borrowed to afford their Christmas

  • 15% of borrowers will still be repaying 2014's Christmas debt at Christmas 2015
  • 42% of people felt pressured to overspend on Christmas
  • Almost one third (32%) of people who felt pressured to overspend wished they could cancel Christmas because of the financial burden
  • The average amount spent on gifts was £230

Today is commonly known as Blue Monday - the unhappiest day of the year. This is as a result of a combination of factors, such as failed New Year's resolutions, the terrible wintery conditions confining most people to their homes and the post Christmas credit card bills arriving. Statistics from debt advice charity Debt Support Trust suggest that over one million people in the UK will still be repaying this year’s Christmas debt 12 months later.

The average cost of Christmas including gifts, food, travel and other costs was £433 per person and it’s these costs which 15% of borrowers will still be repaying into December 2015.

While 61% of people used money in their current account and a further 14% dipped into their savings to pay for Christmas, 14% turned to credit cards, 2% borrowed from friends and family and 1% applied for a loan to meet the burden of Christmas.

The average household credit card debt is £2,214 and for many people using credit cards to afford Christmas, they will be topping up their existing debt with the intention of repaying the debt at a later date.

After Christmas, many people try to balance transfer their credit card debt and keep the cycle going but for some people this will not be possible. This can happen for multiple reasons, for example, the credit card company may reject your application because you have exceeded the amount of borrowing that credit agencies believe is appropriate. If you are only making the interest payments each month to your debts and it's becoming a struggle then seek professional debt help from a charity.

“Let’s Cancel Christmas!”

The financial burden of Christmas for even the wealthiest in the UK has some people feeling pressured to overspend in order to make their festive break the best yet. 42% of people surveyed said they felt pressure to spend more than their budget to afford gifts, food and other seasonal costs.

Almost a third (32%) of people who felt pressured to overspend on Christmas said they would have cancelled Christmas if they could.

Stuart Carmichael, Chief Executive of Debt Support Trust said, “We help significantly more people struggling with debt in January, February and March compared to the rest of the year. This is because for many it is a New Year's resolution to resolve debt worries and for others their financial problems have become so severe that their sleeping, eating and personal relationships are affected.

"The answer to anybody struggling with debt is simple - seek help and advice. Whether it's from a local Citizens Advice Bureau for face to face advice, or a charity like Debt Support Trust which can offer telephone and internet support, there are lots of charitable organisations able to help.

“The people we help through our charity helpline typically tell us they spend 7 years accruing debt before realising they need help with a debt solution. The vast majority of people don’t expect to have a debt problem when they first start to use credit, but circumstances such as loss of a job, separation/divorce and general over reliance on credit can force people to seek debt help”.

People in debt should seek debt help from their local Citizens Advice Bureau or contact Debt Support Trust on 0800 085 0226 or visit http://www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk to get advice from a debt charity.

Notes To Editor

Further comments are available from Stuart Carmichael at Debt Support Trust on 0800 085 0226 / 0141 427 4554

1.    Debt Support Trust is a registered charity (SC041902) providing not for profit debt advice throughout the UK.

2.    Christmas survey polled by Populus on 10th – 11th December with 1,055 people being surveyed.

3.    “One million” is equated from roughly 50 million UK adults (ONS 2013), 17% of which (8.5 million) will borrow to afford Christmas and 15% of these people estimate it will take them a year, or longer, to repay this debt (1,275,000).

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Stuart Carmichael
since: 02/2011
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