Simon Read: Spending won't lead to a happy Christmas
Saturday 12 December 2009
More than half of people who use a credit or store card feel that meeting the minimum repayment is a burden, according to research published this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Alarmingly, 15 per cent of people fail to meet some of their repayments, the ONS said. On the other hand, the same survey reported that household wealth reached a record £9 trillion in Great Britain between 2006 and 2008, with the average wealth of households estimated at a healthy-looking £204,500.
But the survey failed to divulge just how much of that wealth was bought on tick, or credit. With Christmas upon us, many millions of people have been flashing their plastic to buy gifts for loved ones – but how many of those millions will have been spending well beyond their means? The ease of using a credit card means it's easy to forget the consequences.
But getting into debt can have serious consequences, and a happy Christmas could be soon followed by a gloomy New Year when the bills start arriving and remain unpaid. One of the main problems with using a credit card for spending is that it is simply too easy to overspend. And the ease with which it has in recent years been possible to pick up a piece of plastic loaded with thousands of pounds of ready credit only adds to the problem. Don't think I'm having a pop at credit card companies. I'm not. They have every right to make money from their cards, although I hope that bosses do have one or two sleepless nights over the number of people they lead down the overspending path to money misery.
For, despite the notion promoted in one credit card commercial that splashing out on shiny things is "priceless", what really is priceless, frankly, is the peace of mind of knowing that you're not up to your ears in debt. Sadly, the number of people unable to resist the temptation to put things on plastic and spend way beyond their means is growing fast. The latest debt figures published by the Bank of England show that bad debts from credit cards doubled in just three months this summer, leaping from £812m to £1.6bn between July and September.
Of course, many people are not mindlessly overspending or indulging themselves in unaffordable retail therapy. Instead they may be forced to use plastic cards because they feel they have no other place to turn. But there is always a solution. Sometimes it can simply be that people need help with their budgeting and spending habits. Even making a spending diary can help make people realise where they are wasting cash and where they can make cutbacks. And the cutbacks can mean that they don't actually need to borrow money to survive. In other words, they may actually be able to live within their means.
If you know anyone who is struggling with debt, the best Christmas present you can give them this year is to point them in the direction of some free help. Give them the number of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service's helpline on 0800 138 1111, where budgeting and debt advice is available for nothing.
- 1 Amy Winehouse statue unveiled in Camden
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
- 4 Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
iJobs Money & Business
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...
Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony