A debt advice charity has revealed that forking out for festive food could push a fifth of British consumers into the red this Christmas. In a recent survey, the Money Advice Trust (MAT) found that 21% of people polled were planning to use credit to fund their seasonal food shop, or had already done so.
Of this group, most people (78%) said they’d pay for the food on credit cards whilst others cited overdrafts and store cards as their preferred forms of credit. 34% of everyone surveyed also said they’d be borrowing money to pay for Christmas presents for friends and family.
Overspending at Christmas is nothing new. According to a second study by Nationwide Building Society, two thirds of British people blow their usual budgets on food and drink during the festive period. In December 2013, a whopping £433 million was spent on debit cards and £63.5 million on credit cards – compared to £346 million and £39 million in February 2014.
However, these Christmas spending sprees could come with a sting in the tail for the 20% of consumers who told the MAT poll that they’re planning to skip other bill payments to cover the costs of festive food and gifts.
‘Priority debts such as rent, utility bills and council tax, should always come before Christmas spending,’ says Andy Gorton, owner of specialist debt advice firm, Bankruptcy Clinic. ‘However, both these surveys indicate that British consumers are willing to fall into arrears on essential living costs so they can fund the cost of Christmas. Everyone wants to give family and friends a happy Christmas, with food, drink and gifts flowing freely – but what about the financial hangover when the bills hit the mat in the New Year?’
Like many debt advice services, January is the busiest month of the year for Bankruptcy Clinic as over-stretched families realise the extent of their Christmas spending – followed by the further realisation that they can’t afford to repay their creditors. Add in arrears caused by ignoring priority bills over the Christmas period and the result can be toxic.
‘We always see a massive spike in phone and website enquiries every New Year,’ says Andy. ‘Credit and store card bills, bank overdrafts, payday loans for those last minute presents…not to mention everyday living costs. It can feel overwhelming. The good news is that Bankruptcy Clinic are here to help, not judge – and you can count on us never to say “I told you so”.’
About Bankruptcy Clinic
Bankruptcy Clinic offers help and advice on a range of debt management options, including bankruptcy and other forms of personal insolvency. Our trained advisers offer a friendly ear, taking the time to listen to your story and understand your situation. It doesn’t matter how much money you owe, or what type of debts you have. We’re here to help.
Adds Andy: ‘It’s understandable to feel foolish, guilty or embarrassed about falling into debt due to overspending at Christmas. But believe me, you’re not alone! People from all backgrounds and walks of life can experience money problems and there’s no shame in seeking professional help. So don’t bury your head in the sand. Do something positive instead – talk to Bankruptcy Clinic today and take your first steps to sorting things out.’
Bankruptcy Clinic works closely with leading debt management firms in England, Wales and Scotland to give you access to a wide range of solutions. The options available to you will depend on your individual circumstances and the size and nature of your debts, but you can trust our trained advisers to explain everything you need to know clearly and in detail.
Find out more
Why not have a look at our website to find out more about declaring bankruptcy, and also about the other debt options that may be open to you? You’ll also find honest, upfront information about the fees that apply to various debt solutions. Then, when you’re ready, simply get in touch and we’ll start moving forward – together.
How to contact Bankruptcy Clinic
Complete our simple online enquiry with brief details of your financial situation, or call us free from a land line on 0808 168 7389. If you’re calling from a mobile, it’s cheaper to call 01625 462 770. We look forward to helping you soon.