EMPLOYERS may have the best of intentions paying December wages early; however, eight out of 10 of Brits (81%) find this gesture of goodwill to be a hindrance not a help when it comes to their festive finances, and more than half (53%) of those paid earlier than usual in December struggle to meet their bills by mid-January. This is according to independent research announced this month by global information services company, Experian. More than a third (35%) of those surveyed over-spend at Christmas by an average of £207. And the research suggests that some of this over-spending may be a result of hidden costs prompting funds to be stretched to the limit. A quarter of people spend more than planned on food and drink (24%), heating and fuel (15%), Christmas cards and gift wrap (9%) and other hidden extras, such as batteries and chargers (12%), over the holidays. However, when it comes to looking at who the nation’s biggest festive overspenders are, 18 – 24-year-olds are top of the table.
This group over-spends by £589 at Christmas, compared to an average of £207 – suggesting the younger generation may be favouring generosity above prudence when it comes to their Christmas spending. When January comes around, half (49%) dip into their savings to cover the shortfall, and more than a third (36%) choose to use credit. However, among 18 – 24-year-olds, the trend is reversed, with a third (35%) dipping into savings and 45% using credit to bridge the gap and get them through until payday.
In a period when many of these young people are starting to build their credit profiles, it’s important that these younger spenders understand how financial decisions they make now might affect them in the future. Julie Doleman, Managing Director, Experian Consumer, commented: “Our findings today demonstrate the importance of budgeting; not just to cover the Christmas period, but right up until the end of January and beyond.
It’s easy to over-spend at Christmas, so it’s important to understand how your financial decisions can affect you in the long-run, especially if you plan on using credit to cover a shortfall in January. “Starting off on the right foot will help you get the most out of your New Year right from the beginning, allowing you to make progress towards achieving your goal – whether that’s saving for a big purchase or life event, or simply getting your finances under control.” Here are five simple tips from Experian to help people manage their spending over the Christmas period and get 2015 off to a bright start: 1. Brilliant Budgeting: Even if you’re doing it last minute, sit down and take stock of your finances in advance.
Make a realistic budget that covers everything from Christmas presents to January utility bills to bring you comfortably into the New Year until your next paycheque hits your bank account. 2. Understanding Overspending: The final weeks in the lead-up to Christmas are when you are most likely to lose sight of your budget. Be conscious of purchases such as food and fuel and hidden extras, which can build up quickly, leaving you with an unpleasant start to the New Year dealing with unexpected costs hidden in your festive spending. 3.
Use Credit Wisely: If you do use credit to spread the cost of Christmas, consider your options – for example, if you’re unlikely to be able to repay more than the minimum repayments in the New Year, it makes sense to use a 0% credit card rather than a store card or other credit card with a higher limit. 4. Know your limits: Try to use less than 25% of your credit limit on all of your cards – both individually and collectively. Keeping to within 25% of your limit will show lenders that you are not overly-reliant on credit and can manage your finances.