January ‘worst month for debt’

Debt issues are worse in January than other months because of people overspending on Christmas, an expert has said.

The importance of good budget management may seldom be clearer to consumers than in January, just after many people have overspent during the Christmas period and the time leading up to it.

Presents, food, drink, bunting and lots of parties may have provided a bit of fun in the middle of the longest, darkest nights of the year, but the bills arriving in January will do nothing to brighten up life for those facing a difficult struggle in 2012.

Commenting on the situation, managing director of Debt Advice Foundation David Rodger noted that this is a problem year after year.

He said: "Every year, enquiries to the charity's debt advice helpline double in January, as the reality of overspending at Christmas hits home. It is particularly worrying when people build up so much debt over Christmas that they are forced to borrow money to fund everyday living expenses."

Furthermore, those who borrow more money in this way are not tackling their problems but adding to them, Mr Rodger commented.

He advised that the best way to tackle debts is for people to work out their monthly costs and establish how much they can pay off their debt, saying that this requires finding out what is left after paying essential bills like energy, insurance, rent or mortgages.

People wishing to do just this in a bid to be able to offer their creditors a deal may find a budget planner is the best way to go about it.

These are designed to help people work out exactly where all their money goes and can also be used to track ways in which even essential costs can be cut, such as how much is saved after a utility provider or insurer is switched, or when shopping at a different store reduces food expenditure.

Mr Rodger's comments come after a survey published by the Post Office this week revealed 36 per cent of credit card holders will be using plastic just to make it through January, adding to their debts as they pay off essential bills.

The study also found one-in-ten will be using their cards to pay off Christmas borrowing.

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