More than a third of adults ‘are putting Christmas on credit’

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More than a third of adults are putting Christmas on credit, according to a charity.

Some 37% are putting Christmas costs on credit, according to new research from National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust (MAT).

The findings suggest more people are turning to credit this year to fund Christmas, with 33% having said they were putting Christmas on credit when similar research was carried out last year.

They were released as a separate report, from StepChange Debt Charity, said that over two million people in the UK are stuck in a cycle of persistent overdraft debt.

The report, based on a survey of StepChange’s clients and analysis of Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) data, found that 2.1 million people in the UK used their overdraft every month in 2016.

StepChange said that while overdrafts are meant to be short-term, they can trap people in expensive and long-term cycles of persistent debt.

Meanwhile, the MAT’s report found that while 37% of people are putting Christmas presents on credit, 24% are putting Christmas food on credit.

This is an increase from 22% who were putting Christmas food on credit last year.

Around one in seven (14%) people say they worry about money every day in the run-up to Christmas, the latest survey of more than 2,000 people found.

National Debtline has launched a social media campaign called peaceofmind, supported by consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com, to encourage people to seek support online to help ease their money worries.

Its research found that 3% of people say they lose sleep in the run-up to Christmas because of money worries - and nearly one in 10 (9%) people surveyed say their concerns about finances have a negative impact on their enjoyment of Christmas.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the MAT, said: “Money worries can affect people at any time of the year, but with the pressure to spend even greater at Christmas, this can cause even more stress.”

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: “Too many people feel pressured into making a lust list of what makes the perfect Christmas.

“Instead start by working out how much you’ve got to spend and cut your cloth accordingly.”

Here are some Christmas money tips from National Debtline:

1. Set your festive budget. Make a list of the people you want to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it.

2. Keep paying bills such as your mortgage or rent and your utilities. If you get paid earlier than usual, consider paying these bills straight away, so you know that what you have left is what you can spend on Christmas.

3. Try buying non-perishable food items earlier in the month to spread Christmas food costs across December.

4. Resist borrowing more. Think about whether you can afford to pay it back. If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and create a personal budget to make sure you can afford the repayments.

5. If you are worried about your debt, get free debt advice now - do not wait until the New Year. The earlier you seek free debt advice, the sooner you can deal with your debt and ease your worries.

Michael Tennant.

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