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Dashing through the bills: 7.7 million Australians in Christmas debt

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Millions of Australians are nursing Christmas debt hangovers, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,039 respondents revealed 38% of Australians – equivalent to 7.7 million people – have racked up Christmas debt.

The research found 15% will take between 1 and 5 months to pay off their holiday season spend, while an additional 5% will need between 6 and 11 months.

A further 3% – equivalent to more than 600,000 people – say it will take them 12 months or more to settle up.

On the brighter side, 1 in 6 (16%) Aussies say they'll be able to knock off their debt in less than a month.

Amy Bradney-George, credit card expert at Finder, said the festive cheer can come with a hefty price tag.

"Many Australians experience significant financial stress over the holiday period.

"The pressure of gift giving and festive activities can often lead to overspending and an increased reliance on credit."

Finder's research shows the younger generations used credit the most to spread season's greetings.

Gen Z went on the biggest spending spree, with more than half (55%) admitting they acquired debt, followed by 2 in 5 millennials (43%).

Bradney-George said creating a post-holiday budget will help you regain control of your finances.

"Find areas of spending you can trim down, such as eating out and entertainment, and avoid spending on non-essentials until your Christmas debt is settled.

"Create a detailed repayment plan, and prioritise paying off high-interest debt first until it's all cleared.

"Set little goals along the way, so you're able to track your progress over time and stay motivated – just like you might set them for your health and fitness."

Bradney-George said those struggling with credit card debt should consider if a balance transfer is right for them.

"A balance transfer card can give you some breathing room by offering 0% interest on the balance you move to the new card, sometimes for up to 32 months.

"If you're facing significant challenges, you can also speak to a financial counsellor for free by calling the National Debt Helpline at 1800 007 007," Bradney-George said.

How long will it take you to pay off this year's holiday season debt?
Less than 1 month16%
1 - 5 months15%
6 - 11 months5%
12 months or more3%
I won't have any holiday season debt62%
Source: Finder survey of 1,039 respondents, December 2023

Nursing a Christmas debt hangover? A balance transfer credit card can help you save on interest as you pay down debt.

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