since the economy took a turn for the worse this year borrowers are struggling to clear debts of Christmas past.
Recent figures revealed that last month borrowing on unsecured loans, such as credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans rose by its lowest level in 14 years, as more of us fear losing our jobs as the credit crunch bites harder.
According to the Bank of England, this is the smallest rise since February 1994. These figures could be an indication that the impending recession has finally forced us all to pull the reigns in on our spending.
“For many people they are still suffering the financial hangover of Christmas 2007. Credit cards were used significantly and even personal loans were taken out to fund the festivities and since the economy took a turn for the worse this year borrowers are struggling to clear debts of Christmas past.” commented Stuart Parkin, Kensington Financial Management Consultants
He continued: “The figures reported by the Bank of England are of little surprise in these uncertain times and here at Kensington Financial Management we applaud those who are reigning in the credit card spending. It’s a sensible solution, as ultimately the debt will continue well in to the New Year and possibly beyond when funding Christmas on credit cards.”
These figures are clearly testimony to consumers wising up to the perils of high interest rates on borrowing.
Furthermore, debt savvy consumers are shopping more wisely on the high street than in previous years with the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) reporting non-food store sales have slowed significantly between August and September with a 1.1% drop in sales volume. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) supported these findings stating a number of retailers are reporting serious sales falls.
But do these figures mean the nation is cancelling Christmas this year?
Parkin added: “Christmas doesn’t need to be cancelled as such but perhaps toned down as we weather this financial storm. A lot of people bury their heads and pretend the debt isn’t rising but in this instance ignorance is not bliss. Christmas is an annual event and we should not act as if it has been sprung upon us at the last minute!
“The best gift we can offer one another is a debt free New Year, so by putting a little aside now and agreeing spending limits with your loved ones, we should all be able to weather the financial woes Christmas brings and come through it in far less debt than usually anticipated.”
Christmas doesn’t have to be cancelled, simply follow these tips to prevent the dreaded Christmas debt hangover:
Budget - Set an agreed budget and DO NOT deviate from it. If it helps, set up a simple excel sheet to calculate all your outgoings and log every single item purchased, even if it’s a bit of tinsel.
Plan - Christmas is an annual event it isn’t sprung upon us at the last minute! Set aside some cash from your salary each month so that you are armed and ready to spend.
Last minute losers – Don’t leave gift buying until the last minute, it leads to panic buying, which can be costly. Instead, avoid the crowds and buy everything on-line during November.
Research - Kenisngton Financial Management Consultants do not endorse or encourage credit cards but do understand they are sometimes required. If you can’t do without, invest some time into finding one with the lowest interest rates, with an extended interest free period and even one that provides cash back on purchases – this will be welcome come January.
Work – retailers are crying out for extra staff over the Christmas period. Taking a second job in the evenings and at weekends can really boost your income and with less time on your hands you’re less likely to spend.
Preparation – The supermarkets offer some great deals in the run up to Christmas, such as ASDA offering 3 crates of larger for just £20. Buying in bulk is by far cheaper than popping to the off license each evening, plus you are bound to be entertaining over the festivities so you will always have something to offer guests.
Switch your current account - An overdraft is one of the most convenient ways to borrow a bit of extra cash at the end of the month, but it can be expensive. A number of high street banks have recently hiked their overdraft rates - and charges for unauthorised borrowing are extortionate. Customers rarely switch their current account because they think it’s a hassle. But nowadays it’s very straightforward and your new bank will do much of the work.
Save whilst you spend - We all have our Tesco Clubcard/Sainsbury's Nectar Card/Somerfield Saver, in fact many major retailers are now offering loyalty cards, which provide a great way of saving throughout the year without actually paying out extra.
Top up in advance - there are a number of pre-paid debit and credit cards on the market now, one being Tuxedo. These are another great way of saving throughout the year by topping up at Post Offices and pay-points throughout the country. As long as you keep it just to spend at Christmas you’ll find you spend New Year in the black.
Give up something - Giving up one of your little luxuries in order to buy a gift for someone else is a noble gesture. Giving up you daily latte, Friday night pizza or costly cigarettes could save a small fortune.
Bank money you are owed as it's repaid - We often don't think too much about the little sums of money we are owed by various sources, until the cash lands in our hands. Resist the urge to spend this money and instead make a habit of saving rebates from retailers, refunds from utilities or insurance companies, reimbursements for expenses, repayment of other debts and other unexpected windfalls.
Surf the World Wide Web – There are numerous websites offering voucher codes for special offers and discounts on various items from cheap meals to discount on gifts. They’re there for the taking, so snap them up!
For further information or for advice with handling your debts, please visit www.kensingtonfinance.co.uk
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