Survey: How we fear the looming Christmas bills

People living in the south east are the most worried about being able to afford their regular monthly bills after paying for Christmas this year, according to a survey by insolvency trade body, R3.

18 per cent said we are not sure if we will have enough money left over to afford bills at the end of December. The national average is 13 per cent.

Nationally, nearly one in 10 people said they have already borrowed money to pay for Christmas 2011.

The 16-24 age group more likely to have borrowed money than any other group, with around one fifth already in Christmas debt, compared to four per cent of over 65s.

But these figures are down slightly from 21 per cent of young people and six per cent of over 65s having borrowed money in the lead up to Christmas last year.

Nick Keitley of R3 said: “Our members help people to deal with the aftermath of financial problems day to day and see the effects that debt has on people’s lives. So it’s worrying to see that the 16-24s are developing bad money management skills so early on.

“Fewer people than last year, across the board, have borrowed money but there are still some weeks until Christmas. With unemployment figures up, we can only expect to see more people saying they are struggling to afford the demands of the festive season.”

A third of all respondents said it would take them one month or more to pay back Christmas debts. This is an improvement on last year, when nearly half of the respondents said it would take them one month or more to clear the decks.

Nick added: “The recent pick up in retail sales figures indicates that people have started their Christmas shopping early this year, and this is a wise choice. Given the ever increasing cost of living spreading the cost of Christmas across a few pay cheques is sensible.

“However, there are still huge numbers of people who will struggle to afford Christmas and may well look to short-term loans and credit cards. They should be wary of the high interest rates that often accompany these products, as this will leave them lumbered with Christmas debt long into next year.

“I would advise anyone struggling with their finances around the Christmas period to seek the advice of a professional as soon as they can.”