The silly season is a time of joy and mirth for many Australians. Amidst all the end of year celebrations, it feels like the fun will never end and that no expense should be spared in the name of Christmas time. Everybody knows a person or even a whole family that really like to splash out like Santa Claus.
However, what goes up must come down. A recent Finder survey of 1,039 respondents revealed 38 per cent of Australians, the equivalent to 7.7 million people have racked up some significant Christmas debt.
Amy Bradney-George, credit card expert at Finder, said all the presents and celebrations can definitely add up.
“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,” she said.
According to the survey, 15 per cent will take between 1 to 5 months to pay off their holiday season spending. An additional 5 per cent will need between 6 to 11 months.
A further 3 per cent, the equivalent of more than 600,000 people, said that it would take them 12 months or more to settle their debts. The younger generations were the most in debt, with 55 per cent of Gen Z’s and 43 per cent of Millennials surveyed admitting that they had acquired some during the silly season.
Older generations reported less debt but they were still represented within the 38 per cent that had acquired some over the holidays.
For those struggling with debt, Finder has a few tips for restoring their finances. Bradney-George first recommends creating a post-holiday budget plan.
“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,” she recommended.
“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,” she added.
She also said that 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,” Bradney-George said.
Those facing significant challenges can also speak to a financial counsellor for free by calling the National Debt Helpline at 1800 007 007.
On the brighter side, 16 per cent of those surveyed said they’ll be able to knock off their debt in less than 1 month.