Households urged to start saving now for next Christmas
Low-earning households are being urged to start saving money now in time for next Christmas.
The Money Advice Trust (MAT) debt charity is advising consumers who struggle with savings to budget for the year ahead.
One idea, it says, is to join a credit union.
An internet survey conducted for the MAT also suggests that more people will struggle with their finances this January than was the case last year.
Some 16% of people questioned said they were likely - or very likely - to fall behind with their finances in January, as a result of Christmas spending.
That amounts to 7.9 million people, the MAT said, and compares with 11% in a similar poll last year.
The majority - 68% - said they would cope sufficiently during the month.
The poll suggested that more than half of households in the country only started saving for Christmas in December.
The MAT says one option is to save throughout the year with a credit union - community-owned organisations that tend to offer low-cost loans and savings accounts.
"At the start of this New Year, when resolutions are being made, I would encourage everyone to look at their personal finances and make a plan if they can for 2018 - set a household budget, look at joining a credit union in preparation for next Christmas, and seek free advice at www.nationaldebtline.org if you are struggling to cope," said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the MAT.
Those who open Christmas savings accounts with credit unions can only access their money later in the year.
"Credit unions across the country help their members to save towards the costs of Christmas with dedicated Christmas savings accounts which lock funds away and make them available as the festivities approach," said Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited.
The MAT urges households to:
- Make a plan for 2018, by budgeting for each month
- Join a credit union. A list can be found here
- Deal with any debts as soon as possible
Meanwhile, the government-backed Money Advice Service suggested that the new year squeeze on finances could be mitigated by having a clear out at home and selling unwanted items and switching to cheaper deals on household bills. This was particularly important if it had not been done for some time.
Nick Hill, from the service, said: "If you're worried about money you owe, then it's best to get advice as early as you can."