Almost 5 million Australians still nursing Christmas debt hangovers

Posted: 28 January 2021 1:43 pm
News
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Millions of Australians put Christmas on credit this festive season – and now they're paying the price.

A new Finder survey of 1,004 respondents revealed that more than one in three (37%) Australians racked up Christmas credit card debt.

That's equivalent to 7 million people that put their Christmas spending on plastic.

Of these Aussies, only one-third (35%) have paid off their debt, leaving 4.7 million credit card holders still paying off Christmas purchases.

A further 37% will take between 1-5 months to pay off their debt.

Further Finder analysis shows that Aussies racked up $24 billion on credit cards in December.

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder said if you're suffering a Christmas debt hangover, you're not alone.

"The holiday is barely over and the credit card bills are already rolling in," she said.

"Consumers were rightfully merry about the festive season, but the ensuing debt hangover is putting pressure on millions of Aussie households."

Worryingly, the survey also found that one in ten (11%) don't expect to pay off their Christmas debt for at least 12 months.

"While it may have seemed like a good idea to splurge at the time, you could be left paying for your spending long after the decorations have been packed away."

Browne recommends paying off your debt as soon as possible.

"Many Australians have been getting savvier about reducing their credit card debt during the pandemic and now is the time to start reducing the Christmas debt before you get charged interest.

"If you think you are going to need to take some extra time to pay off your balance, this is a good time to consider moving to a 0% balance transfer card which allows you to move your debt and offers an interest-free window of time in order to pay it back.

"While 0% balance cards are really helpful in giving you some extra time to pay down your credit card debt, make sure that you can pay off all the debt before the interest-free period ends, so you don't get stung with higher rates later down the track."

The research shows generation Y shoppers were most likely to be left with a Christmas debt hangover – 44% had Christmas debt, compared to only 22% of baby boomers.

People from Queensland will clear their debt the fastest, with 42% of those who had credit card debt saying they already have, compared with 35% of NSW and Victorian residents.

Browne said the best way to boost your Christmas budget was to start saving now.

"Start putting cash aside now for Christmas 2021 – $20 a week will give you $940 by December 25.

"It's never too early to start preparing for the most expensive time of year. Planning ahead and creating a long-term budget will help you reach your financial goals and avoid falling into a debt spiral."

How long will it take you to pay off your Christmas debt?
1-5 months37%
6-11 months17%
12 months or more11%
I have already paid off my Christmas debt35%
Finder survey of 374 Australians with credit card debt

Methodology

  • This study was designed by Finder and conducted by Qualtrics, a SAP company.
  • The online Finder survey was conducted using a nationally representative survey sample of 1,004 Australians.

Tips to erase your Christmas debt

  • Have a "no-spend month". Making a dramatic reduction in spending for a short period of time can be the kickstart you need to get on top of festive debt. Cutting out extras like streaming subscriptions, takeaway and frivolous shopping can all help put a bit of cash back in your pocket to pay off your credit card debt faster.
  • Lower your credit card rate. According to Finder, there are currently more than 100 credit cards offering 0% interest on a balance transfer. If you have a good credit score, you could be eligible to transfer your balance to one of these 0% offers which can save you paying interest for as long as 30 months with a card like the Citi Rewards Card.
  • Get a head start. Start building your Christmas fund now so you won't be caught off guard when December rolls around. Set up a direct debit into a savings account for an amount you know you will be able to maintain each pay. Putting away just $20 a week from now until December will give you an extra $940 to play with come Christmas time.

A balance transfer credit card could save you over $2,000 on a $5,000 debt. Find out how much you could save.

Get more from Finder

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