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Do you have a festive financial hangover?

Do you have a festive financial hangover?

Category: Credit cards

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Has all that festive indulgence left you with a hangover? We don't just mean the traditional kind, either. Many people will be starting January with a hangover of the financial variety, brought on by overspending and over-reliance on credit cards and overdrafts, so if you're feeling the effects, it's time to take control.

You're not alone

Research from National Debtline has revealed that suffering from a financial hangover is becoming a widespread phenomenon, and as a result, 11% of respondents said they're likely to fall behind on their finances in January as they try to recover from their Christmas spending. Unfortunately, less than a third (32%) have set a budget that they try to stick to, and only 12% have a plan for repaying any debts they currently owe, which suggests that this kind of hangover could linger for some time.

Overspending during the festive season isn't the only thing that could lead to a frugal January, either. Many people were paid early in December, which means they could find stretching their money until the end of the month an even bigger struggle than usual. As a result, meeting bills could be even tougher, and while some dip into their savings to cover the shortfall, many will inevitably turn back to credit.

Don't fear your credit card statement

This is particularly worrying given that many people will have already racked up a hefty credit card bill over the festive period, so the last thing you want to do is add to it. Try to avoid using credit at this time of year, but if you must, make sure it isn't accruing any additional interest – ideally, use credit cards that charge 0% interest on purchases for a set period of time, as that way you'll be able to spread the cost of your January purchases without paying for it with sky-high interest.

Alternatively, if your credit card statement is already anxiety-inducing, consider transferring the amount to a 0% balance transfer credit card. These can be a financial saviour, as you can find cards that offer introductory terms of up to 43 months – giving you plenty of time to pay off the balance. Just make sure you don't spend on these cards and cut up the original, otherwise you'll be right back where you started.

Stay in control

The key to recovering from your financial hangover – and to ensure it doesn't last well into February and beyond – is to stay in control. Be ruthless with your budget and get rid of absolutely all unnecessary expenditures, and don't continue your bad habits - stop overspending, try to step away from the credit card and pay attention to where every penny goes - and hopefully you'll be cured in no time.

"January can be a difficult month for household budgets, and it is easy to see how many people fall behind when the bills for Christmas spending begin to land," said Joanna Elson OBE of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline.

"However, this is also of course the month for New Year's resolutions, and with fewer than a third of us having set a budget for our personal finances, resolving to set a budget for 2017 should be at the very top of the list. For most people, setting a budget for income and expenditure is the single biggest step they can take to regain control of their finances and start to tackle their debts."

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