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A quarter need help to survive January. Do you?

In exclusive research by the Money Advice Service, more than a quarter (28%) of UK adults have told us they will struggle financially in January.

Cold weather, dark nights and back to work blues can all add up to a miserable month. And money problems are likely to make it even more difficult.

The real cost of Christmas

A huge part of this is down to overspending in December. One in three (30%) UK adults felt pressured to spend more money than they could afford over Christmas, with one in ten pushed into debt as a result.

The average festive spend in 2015 was £429 per household, which includes presents, food, travel and socialising. With 20% of those purchases made on credit card and 6% with an overdraft, it’s easy to see how the overspending can add up.

The dangers of borrowing to buy things you can’t afford include bank charges and high interest payments. Failing to pay the money back as soon as possible can easily leave shoppers with a nasty surprise.

Early pay for Christmas means longer to wait for January’s salary

The extra pressure to spend is only part of the problem. Nearly half (44%) of workers were paid early in December. That’s more than 13 million people.

When there’s money in the account it often goes, so even those who haven’t overspent at Christmas could be in for a more difficult month.

Eat, Sleep, Spend, Repeat

This isn’t unique to 2016. Last year a third of Brits struggled in the New Year thanks to Christmas overspending, with the stress leading to anxiety and in some cases depression.

A small number (4%) were still paying for Christmas 2014, while almost one in ten (9%) said spending this year pushed them into further debt.

Help with debts, and where to get it

Nearly half (48%) of those who suffered financial stress last January revealed budgeting would have helped them avoid overspending. It’s a great tip for next year, but for those already in debt, there are places you can go for help.

Last January the Money Advice Service saw an extra half a million enquiries for money or debt advice, up from an average of 2.1 million. That’s likely to be repeated in 2016.

 

Getting 2016 off to a savvy start

Nearly three quarters (72%) of people we surveyed don’t want to begin next year in the same situation. To combat that a quarter of people (24%) want to save more in 2016 and a similar number (20%) plan to spend less. But that’s only half the solution.

Throughout the month, the Money Advice Service blog will host articles, videos and print out guides to help you “Survive January”.  They focus on some simple steps you can take to get your finances in shape. From switching your supermarket to selling your junk, following these could quickly cut back your spending.

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