Festive Debt Hits Third Of NI

Fresh research has shown that for more than one third of people in Northern Ireland (36%) the cost of Christmas shopping, entertaining and socialising has resulted in increased stress over finances.

Post Office Christmas Club data has revealed that of almost 400,000 people (22%) who had to increase their debts to cover Christmas, well over a third of them (42%) are going to have to make cut-backs on essentials such as food and utility bills in order to repay debts as well as cutting back on going out throughout the year.

Although the same number of men and women (29%) are stressed over Christmas expenditure, it seems that many men will be placing their heads in the sand when it comes to dealing with the extra debt – 15% said they have no idea how they are going to make repayments compared to just four per cent of women.

And although January may traditionally be a peak period for holiday bookings, just over a quarter (27%) who incurred Christmas debt said that spending on holidays will have to be reduced in 2010.

The Post Office Christmas Club research also revealed a reduction in the number of people who budgeted for Christmas in 2009 – 30% said they saved up in advance to cover costs, while 41% didn't do anything special.
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This approach has also been echoed by Post Office Christmas Club customers who, because of the recession, said they felt they would not have enough spare cash to save towards Christmas 2009.

As a result, the Post Office reduced the minimum pre-payment for the Christmas Club from £5 to £2 to help people take that first step towards saving for Christmas.

With almost one in ten people still expected to be paying off Christmas 2009 debts come Christmas 2010 the Post Office Christmas Club is advising that now is the time to start planning this years festive season.

Michael Birchall of Post Office Christmas Club said: Now really is the time to consider saving through schemes such as the Post Office Christmas Club.

"We know cash is tight for many so we've made it even easier to save by reducing the minimum payment to £2.

"Savings are locked away until 1 November to avoid temptation and helping to avoid a Christmas debt hangover well past the 2011 New Year celebrations."

The Post Office Christmas Club offers an easy way to budget over the counter at any Post Office branch.

The maximum individual payment is £500, up to a total of £1,000 per card per annum.

Each club member receives a great bonus booklet of special offers with selected retail partners - a significant benefit compared to current rates available from high street savings accounts.


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