Four ways to clear your Christmas debt

Four ways to clear your Christmas debt

People across the UK face ‘Red Wednesday’ woes as Christmas debt tips bank accounts into the red today. 

Brean Horne
Wed, 01/22/2020 – 11:49

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Bank accounts across the nation are expected to fall into the red today as the true extent of Christmas debt hits, according to new research from Credit Karma.

The average Briton owes £623 to creditors, taking the collective debt to £14bn, the consumer technology company estimates.

It’s expected to take four months on average for people to clear their Christmas debt. 

Akansha Nath, credit expert at Credit Karma said: “We can all be guilty of overspending at Christmas, so it’s no surprise to see Brits facing extra financial strain in January.  

“It’s daunting to think that we might be well into April before we’re consistently back in the black, but rather than using ‘quick fixes’ to free up some extra cash, there are lots of simple ways to get back in control of our finances.”

If you’re suffering from a Christmas debt hangover we’ve rounded up four simple ways to help you clear it.

1. Make a repayment plan

It’s easy to turn a blind eye when your debts build up with the intention of sorting them out later.

Making a plan of action, however, is the best way to start.

Having a repayment plan will make it easier to keep track of how much you owe and how much you’ll need to pay off to be debt free within your desired time frame.

2. Make strategic repayments

Prioritising your repayments is key.  As a general rule, you should aim to clear your most expensive debts first.

These are usually sitting on credit cards or overdrafts where interest rates tend to be higher.

Larger expenses such as keeping up with your mortgage repayments should be a high priority too.

3. Make your debt cheaper

You can cut the cost of your credit card debt by using a 0% balance transfer credit card.

This will allow you to shift your debt to a card that charges no interest for certain period of time.

Setting up a monthly direct debit can help you pay down the cost of your debt.

4. Stop taking out more credit

Paying off your debts should come first.

While expenses during the year are unavoidable, making cutbacks where possible can help ensure you beat your Christmas debt.

Once it is taken care of, you can start putting money away for December 2020 and avoid falling into debt.

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UK employment rate hits record high

UK employment rate hits record high

Unemployment is at its lowest since 1974, according to government figures.

Emma Lunn
Wed, 01/22/2020 – 10:56

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The thriving UK jobs market means the country has hit a record high employment rate at 76.3%, with the unemployment rate not lower since 1974. Wage growth has outpaced inflation for the 22nd consecutive month.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that all regions in the UK have benefited from an upturn in employment since 2010. In the North West the number in work has climbed to a record high of 3.55 million.

The DWP says women have benefitted the most from the thriving UK jobs market – with 317,000 more entering work in the past year alone.

Ministers also claim the figures show an uplift in people taking up quality careers offering real progression – with 3.1 million more people in higher skilled work since 2010.

Mims Davies, minister for employment, says: “These figures show not only more people in work than ever before, but it’s also pleasing to see alongside this a rise in those working in higher skilled roles. It means at the dawn of the decade the opportunities to progress in work are out there, with people already benefiting from another month of rising wages.

“This, coupled with business confidence turning a corner, is paving the way for an even stronger jobs market in 2020.

“And with unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s, our jobcentres go beyond getting people into work – they are about community and progression. Reaching out to more people, and supporting those in work to get ahead.”

However, the figures also show a rise in so-called “zero hours” contracts – where workers are not guaranteed a minimum number of hours each week. Between 2013 and 2019, the proportion of workers on zero hours contracts in total employment increased by 0.8 percentage points to 2.7%.

The latest data for the period April to June 2019 show that there were 896,000 workers on zero hours contracts with more women (483,000) than men (413,000) on this type of employment contract.

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New veterans railcard to offer a third off train travel

New veterans railcard to offer a third off train travel

A new railcard offering cheaper fares for military veterans will be launched on Armistice Day.

Emma Lunn
Wed, 01/22/2020 – 09:35

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced a new railcard offering veterans cheaper train travel.

The card will be available from 11 November 2020 and will offer a third off most train fares to more than 830,000 veterans not covered by existing discounts. The railcard will cost £21 for a limited period, before rising to £30.

Shapps says: “Every part of society should honour the debt we owe those who’ve served our country. I’m proud that the Department for Transport, together with other government colleagues and the rail industry, is doing its bit.

“This railcard will help open up opportunities to veterans, whether through employment and retraining, or by strengthening links with friends and family. I believe that enabling former service personnel to travel more easily is the least we can do.”

The railcard forms part of the government’s veterans’ strategy coordinated by the recently-established Office for Veterans Affairs. The action plan sets out support for those who served in areas including community and relationships, employment and skills, health and wellbeing, finance and debt, housing, and contact with the law.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden, who represents the office for veterans’ affairs (OVA), says: “The office for veterans’ affairs was set up to get things done for our veterans. I am pleased to see that the OVA is already able to show it is achieving just this, working with the Department for Transport to deliver this railcard.

“Our new action plan will help to make the UK the best place in the world for veterans. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will drive the plan from the heart of government, working to help veterans on jobs, housing and health, through better data and a more joined up approach.”

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