Did you get paid early in December? Many of us find ourselves with an early Christmas present when the final salary of the year comes a week or two early – however this does of course mean that there’s a much longer run than usual until the next one in January.
Experian research has found that eight out of 10 of Brits (81%) found the early payday a hindrance when it comes to their festive finances*. In fact, more than half (53%) of those paid earlier than usual in December said they struggle to meet their bills by mid-January, with more than a third (35%) overspending at Christmas by an average of £207 on things like food & drink, heating & fuel, and various seasonal extras.
And when January comes around? Around half (49%) dip into their savings to cover the shortfall, and more than a third (36%) choose to use credit, with almost half (45%) of 18 – 24-year-olds use credit to bridge the gap.
It’s easy to overspend over the festive period, which is why budgeting not just to cover the Christmas period but into January can be a good idea. And if you then find yourself feeling you need to apply for credit, it’s a good idea to make yourself as attractive as possible to lenders to give yourself the best chance of being accepted for the credit deals you want.
To get 2015 off to a bright new start, we’ve got five simple tips if you’re thinking of getting your finances under control.
- Budget with attitude – Take stock of what you’ve got – and get your spreadsheet skills in action and make a realistic budget that covers everything from Christmas presents to January utility bills to bring you comfortably into the New Year.
- Get Credit Confident – If you do use credit to spread the cost of the post-festive period, consider your options. Make sure your credit report is up to date and that the information on it is accurate. Checking your Experian Credit Score before you apply for new credit can give you a good indication of whether or not you’d get accepted. The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your credit report & credit history, and it can help you monitor your progress as you get your finances in order before you apply for credit.
- Understanding overspending – 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.
- What can you do without? Gym membership you hardly ever use. Those satellite TV channels you never watch. That extended warranty you didn’t really need to buy. It can all add up! A budget calculator may help you work out if you could live without it.
- Remember to pay it off – If you used credit then try to stay within your credit limits and pay your credit bills on time, as missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and this can have a big impact on your score. If you’re not able to make the minimum payment, speak to your lender as soon as possible – just don’t bury your head in the sand.
*Research was carried out online by Canadean Consumer on behalf of Experian Consumer Services among a representative panel of 2,000 UK adults in November 2014.