Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Festive Plastic Is Not So Fantastic ; Don't Fall into Trap of High Cost Christmas Credit, Says TRICIA PHILLIPS

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Festive Plastic Is Not So Fantastic ; Don't Fall into Trap of High Cost Christmas Credit, Says TRICIA PHILLIPS

Article excerpt

MUMOF HALF of British families are set to rack up debt on plastic or overdrafts to fund Christmas this year. More worrying is the fact that more than a million people will be forced to turn to extortionate payday loans and risk heading into spiralling debt, according to research from the Money Advice Service.

This comes on top of figures from the TUC that show it will take the average income family until next June to pay off Christmas debts.

Falling wages and lower household savings are making it impossible for families to find any spare cash to cover the extra costs of Christmas.

They then borrow, and reduced incomes mean they find it difficult to repay credit cards, loans and overdrafts. Christmas may be a time for giving and it is easy to get swept along with the festive cheer. But, unless you keep a tight control of your finances you could be left with a money hangover well into the New Year.

PayPlan, which offers free help to those struggling to repay debt say calls to its helpline rocket by a third during January, with people suffering from post-Christmas money blues.

The average debt of PayPlan clients in January was Pounds 16,789 and it will take around nine years to clear this via one of the firm's fee-free debt management plans.

After having money problems a few years ago Jane Clack turned to PayPlan for support and help to get her finances back on track.

Now Jane is a debt adviser at PayPlan, where she shares her experience and offers help to others who are finding it difficult to cope.

"Calls to our helpline always increase in January, so we know that many people find it a difficult time financially," she says.

"It's not only the Christmas hangover kicking in but also many of us overspend during the summer months and it can all come back to bite you.

"We often find people splashing out on their holidays, and when you add to this the cost of keeping the kids entertained during the six-week break or extra childcare during this period, many of us are already cash strapped as Christmas approaches.

"With the festivities around the corner, it's often easier to put off money matters until the New Year.

"But in reality this just means the debts really start to add up."

Jane says a bit of careful planning and budgeting is the way to avoid the debt trap this Christmas and enjoy the festivities without being left with empty pockets come 2015.

She explains: "Draw up a spreadsheet, listing all your household income and outgoings.

"Once you know how much money you have left over after all you bills have been paid, you can figure out how much money you really have to spend on Christmas."

GET FREE HELP IF YOU are struggling with debts don't struggle alone - act quickly or things will spiral out of control.

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or visit advice. …

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