Consumers Need To Monitor Finances During Christmas

By: Arouse
More people could be due to come under financial pressure over Christmas, a new study suggests.

In research conducted by CreditExpert, 76 per cent of Britons state that they are set to either spend the same amount of money on gifts this year as they did in 2006 or increase their expenditure. The news comes as 29 per cent of those surveyed claim that their present financial situation is tighter than it was last year. And as the credit reference agency claims that the impact of the recent series of interest rate rises and the credit crunch has put more strain on consumers' monetary situations, more people could well be due for a "huge financial fork-out this Christmas".

The study also showed that eight per cent of respondents believe that their borrowing, whether through credit cards, overdrafts or a personal loan, will increase in the weeks leading up to the Christmas period. Meanwhile, about half (47 per cent) of those surveyed think that there is a social pressure for them to buy expensive gifts.

Jim Hodgkins, managing director for CreditExpert, said: "During the festive season, most of us spend more than normal so it's especially important to monitor our finances and make sure our Christmas doesn't turn into a financial nightmare."

He advised that while buying gifts is a "big part" of the festive period, consumers would be wise to avoid overspending as otherwise they could develop problems managing debts accrued via loans and credit cards. "It's vital we budget and take a step back to ensure all our outgoings are necessary so we don't end up being unable to make the repayments come January - a bad credit rating can make the difference between being offered credit or not, so make sure you keep on top of your credit history and ensure you can pay back any debts before you go into the red," Mr Hodgkins asserted.

Overall, the study showed that people in the north feel that they are under the most pressure to splash out on expensive gifts for their loved ones, which consequently could impact upon their ability to make payments on personal loans and other types of borrowing. In turn, CreditExpert pointed out that those from the northern areas struggle more with money than anywhere else in the country, as the levels of consumers in the north-west and north-east who have got into debt after overspending during Christmas accounts for 37 and 31 per cent respectively. This compares to the 22 per cent of residents from the south-east of England who admitted getting into debt last Christmas. Meanwhile, people in the 35 to 44-year-old age bracket are the most likely to have gone into the red as a result of exceeding spending plans over the festive season.

For those concerned about their ability to fund their spending in the run-up to Christmas, taking out a cheap loan could well be an advisable option, as in doing so borrowers may be able to make a number of purchases at a low rate of interest or pay off other debts that they may have built up. Last month, Neil Munroe, external affairs director at Equifax, reported that having a positive credit report can help consumers access a loan at a competitive rate of interest.
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