Can you believe that the festive season is a mere sixteen weeks away?! The time when families get together and enjoy all the delights of good food, thoughtful gifts and wonderful company – what better time of year you may think.
Unfortunately, however, for thousands of UK families Christmas time this year is looking like it may not be that ‘merry’ after all. Why? because it is anticipated that even more families are going to struggle to keep their head above water – with many people stating that they are only a couple of hundred pounds away from slipping into a vicious debt cycle.
According to well-known charity National Debtline, families struggling to make ends meet is set to reach a six year high come December this year with figures also highlighting that calls to their helpline service may hit a quarter of a million. In simple terms, that is a quarter of a million families in this country struggling to get by and put food on the table. It is quite simply, a national disgrace.
Another shocking piece of information that has been uncovered is the type of debt that people are struggling with. Naturally people would assume that families are failing to pay off their credit cards and other similar monthly pests, but, in actual fact, people are struggling to find the funds to meet the most basic of outgoings. Council tax and energy payments seem to be the biggest problem causers for families at the moment, as opposed to loans and overdrafts. We can only assume that this is because people have been made aware of loans and the importance of paying this type of credit back on time, so are more likely to make sure that payments for these are met when needed. This appears to be to the detriment of other monthly outgoings that are equally important. Many people are in energy arrears, for instance, and more people than ever before are complaining that they can’t meet their council tax demands.
It appears that the type of debt problems that people are enduring is shifting. People seem to be struggling with the smaller essential bills going out regularly as opposed to big loan repayments. Figures seem to back this theory up. Around 57 per cent of callers to the National Debtline this year have been in debt to the tune of £6,500 or less and most of this is due to mounting household bills. Only 19 per cent of people who called the debt line last year complained that household bills were the problem – this is a significant increase in this type of debt.
Basically, the upshot is that people’s income isn’t enough to meet their regular monthly outgoings which, in turn, is meaning that everyone is falling behind on their bills and getting into a dangerous money catch up game.
Ultimately it is up to individuals to get a grasp of their spending and their budgets, even though we appreciate this can be difficult. The set-up of a spreadsheet should help people establish what money is coming in and what is going out as sometimes it can help just to see figures laid out to establish where and how money needs to be saved.