Don't let debt cast a shadow on the season to be jolly

It’s Christmas time again. For Mike, like many others, Christmas means being with family and friends as everyone enjoys the Christmas Day feast. The festival brings along with it the joy of giving gifts to loved ones, as well as going out with friends to enjoy everything the holiday season has to offer.

However, many like Mike also find it to be a very stressful time of the year, especially when budgets are tight and savings low. This is when the pressure to celebrate with all the traditional trappings takes its toll. Many people end up taking out high-interest payday loans or overspending on credit cards.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers [1], shoppers in the UK are preparing to spend an average of £420 on Christmas presents this year. Christmas spending, which often goes on high-interest credit cards, tends to put an extra end-of-year crunch on people’s ability to pay back their debt.

According to a Nationwide Building Society survey, more than a third (36%) of the respondents were left in the red last year– struggling with £426 of debt on average. It took around two and a half months for most people to clear the debt, although a third of the respondents (32%) struggled with it until July – seven months [2], which really means that they got only 4-5 months to save for the next holiday and might need to borrow again. This, then, initiates the cycle of perpetual debt. For Mike and many others, any unexpected expenses during these seven months could be a trigger to push them into persistent debt with zero savings to fall back upon.

What they need is not more debt, but a strategy that would not only help with meet their immediate needs and, simultaneously, set them on a path to get ready for the next year with a smile on their face. The FairQuid Wellbeing platform, with partner Credit Unions, could have the answer.

For Mike, (name changed) it was almost like a Christmas miracle. He had been working for Recycling Lives, a company with a commercial recycling business, for over a year. Last Christmas (Dec 2017), he needed funds during the festive season to buy gifts for family and friends, as well as undertake minor repairs around the house. He had been going through a difficult patch and his conventional credit worthiness scores were at rock bottom. He was quite at a loss trying to find a way to work things out and payday loans seemed to be his only option. To his relief and delight, his employer stepped in to offer all employees an opportunity to access credit at fair terms by partnering with the FairQuid Wellbeing platform.

Instead of taking on high-interest debt, Mike was able to obtain the loan, through First Choice Credit Union, that he needed to meet his commitments last Christmas. His loan repayments were easy to manage as they came straight out of his wages and the bundled savings option was a bonus. He had borrowed £600 last December and has not only repaid the amount comfortably through payroll deductions (auto-pilot) but has also managed to save around £520 and will be able to fund the current (2018) festive season himself instead of having to borrow again.

For Mike and others like him, who can find it tough to make those important changes in life, it is not easy to even open a bank account at times, let alone access credit on fair terms. FairQuid believes Credit Unions can play a central role in addressing the need for short-term holiday season credit, help millions of Britons who are excluded from mainstream finance and at the same time facilitate savings – thus ending the vicious cycle of debt people fall into during this time. Certainly, a reason to rejoice!


Government Aims To Address Debt Burden Through No Interest And Extended Repayment Schemes

According to the Office of National Statistics, for the first time in 30 years, UK households have collectively spent more than they have earned in 2017. Their total expenditure for the period came to on average £900 more than their income; thus pushing them into a financial deficit for the first time since the credit card boom of the 1980s. The deficit, which amounted to nearly £25bn, was equivalent to almost a quarter of the NHS budget. Though most households fell into the cycle of overspending with the money they had borrowed, a number of the households also ran down their savings.

The government, in its autumn budget, announced new measures to help citizens in debt. Referred to as the ‘Breathing space’ scheme and the ‘No-interest loans’ scheme, these measures aim to tackle the problem faced by about three million people in Britain, who are facing the pressure of debt caused by borrowing from high-cost lenders such as payday and credit card companies.

Currently, over 16.8 million people in Britain have less than £100 savings. This leads to financial stress and takes a toll on their mental health. Over a million people turned to high-cost credit last year to meet their basic living expenses, which is in the end counterproductive both for households and the country’s economy. The problem of high-cost credit is intensified by insecurity in the labour market and the growing use of zero-hour contracts. This, in turn, implies that when people do not plan their budget and overspend, they get into debt, as they have no savings. This will have a negative impact on their credit ratings, distancing them even further from fair credit opportunities.

Therefore, the UK government, working with leading debt charities and the banking industry, has decided to launch a feasibility study to help design a pilot for a ‘No-interest loans’ scheme in early 2019. While, under the other ‘Breathing Space’ scheme, people who are in debt will get a 60-day period of protection against creditor action. This will give them more time to seek advice and make plans to repay their debt in a manageable way.

The decision makers drew inspiration from the No Interest Loans Scheme of Australia, which provides people with low incomes access to safe, fair and affordable access to credit. The scheme offers loans of up to $1,500 for essential goods and services and not for cash. Repayments are structured over 12 – 18 months. There are no interest charges or fees.

Though there are many organisations imparting financial education to create awareness for lowering debt and increase savings, there is a need for a strong practical solution that can work alongside these plans. FairQuid, a financial wellbeing platform, believes credit unions play a central role in tackling these issues.

Currently, credit unions in the United Kingdom could help millions of Britons who are excluded from mainstream finance. They play an important role in facilitating savings and offering affordable loans to their members. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates credit unions but as they are run for the benefit of members, not shareholders, they can offer ethical saving schemes, competitive loans and other financial products, not usually available to individuals excluded from traditional financial organisations.

The FairQuid Wellbeing Platform has been designed to work in tandem with employers to develop innovative solutions that benefit both credit unions and employees. It is a win-win situation for all. The platform educates employees about personalised financial tools to make better finance-related decisions and take control of their finances. On the other hand, for employers, it prevents mental health issues in workplace, boosts engagement levels, and increases employee retention.

The budget also has a provision to support this credit union sector. To help people increase their financial resilience while boosting awareness and membership of these community organisations, the budget commits to launch a pilot of a new ‘prize-linked saving’ scheme for credit unions.

By helping households manage their unexpected costs through increased access to fair and affordable credit, and motivating them to create a safety net of savings, the government is taking a big step towards its citizens “being and feeling financially secure, today and in the long run.”

Mind the Gap: Making Credit Fair for Everyone

Currently, there’s been a lot of attention on fighting inequality & boosting fairness in the workplace. From the #MeToo movement to gender pay gap, we have a lot of challenges to tackle. But there’s another inequality that needs to be addressed too. The accessibility of fair credit for all.

Credit Explained

There’s no doubting that the world of credit ratings is rife with misconstrued information and misunderstanding. So, let’s understand how credit scores work.

Credit scores are used by lenders to decide whether to offer you credit (such as a credit card or a loan) and what the terms of the offer will be. The higher your score, the better your chances at receiving credit, and the lower rate of interest you will be offered. However, there are many factors that can affect your credit score, such as:

  • Payment history, i.e. late payments
  • Type, number and age of credit accounts
  • Total debt
  • Public records, i.e. bankruptcy, tax liens or civil judgements
  • Length of credit history

Differing Rates

As a result, within the UK, credit scores differ massively across demographic and geographic sectors. By analysing more than 5 million customers over the past year, ClearScore generated a list of areas with the highest and lowest average credit scores– with postcodes in the South of England with higher credit scores than those in the North. The worst area for credit is Sunderland, with residents holding an average credit score of 318.31 – almost 20% lower than the UK’s average score of 380.

Why is there so much disparity? Surely, if we as a country are striving towards fairness, everyone – no matter their location or background – should be entitled to fair, affordable credit.

Well, the current system dictates that those with low credit ratings have limited to no access to reasonably priced credit, which instils inequalities and drives people into even more debt (through credit cards, overdraft accounts or the likes of payday lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates).

Offering a Solution for Employers

We are trying to solve the challenge of rising debt and lack of savings by partnering with employers, to offer employees fair access to financial products. We partner with not-for-profit Credit Unions who are member-owned and are the ethical solution to providing credit & savings accounts.

Get in touch to learn more about how we can benefit your team today!

How to Save as you Borrow (as an Employee)

2 min read

Saving money isn’t easy. Especially when you’re juggling debts. Putting money aside for a rainy day isn’t something we, as a nation, are very good at anymore.

Since the recession, banks have encouraged consumers to borrow money. Interest rates are low, so why not treat yourself? Get a new sofa. A new car. Go to Spain. Buy that shiny gadget you’ve had your eye on for a while. Treat yourself. Treat the kids. Have fun! You only live once (YOLO).

Unfortunately, this mindset has, for millions of families, created an unhealthy relationship with money. For the first time in 30 years, UK households collectively spent more than they earned in 2017. Since over 16 million people have less than £100 in savings, how does one support all this spending? In one word: Debt

Low savings and debt: Impact on employees

Low levels of savings alongside debt is a toxic combination. It causes stress. A lot of it. With sleepless nights, one in four employees has struggled to perform at work due to money worries.

Ultimately, it’s felt at the workplace. Anxiety and stress can cause accidents and absenteeism. With struggling staff, it can also drag down productivity and most importantly – the overall well-being of your people.

Many think that financial stress is something of a taboo, especially at work. Team members aren’t likely to raise these issues with a manager or HR. This puts employers in an unfortunate position that they’re negatively impacted by problems they aren’t aware of and seemingly can’t do much to control or improve.

So what can you do, as an employer, to help your employees where they need it most?

Encouraging positive change

So we already know it’s tough to save when you’re steeped in debt. Without the safety net of savings, anything can go wrong, putting employees at risk.

When you’re looking for credit, there are many barriers to affordable access to credit. For one, your credit score history can leave you with nowhere else to turn but high-interest rate options such as credit cards, overdraft accounts and payday lenders.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. We’ve got a solution! We enable loyalty and performance with the employer to be used as a credit currency.

What does that mean? Instead of historical credit scores, we measure the current length of service and performance to assess the eligibility of a loan. Using these innovative metrics, means we solve the problem of access to credit because our approval rates get up to 97%. There’s no point providing an employee benefit if it can’t benefit all your employees, right?

Couple this with an attached savings component which nudges employees to, ‘Save as you Borrow’, and voilà – we are changing behaviour for the future! And we really are. Most employees continue saving long after they have paid off their loan.

So how do we pull this off? Our partners are not-for-profit, member-owned, financial cooperatives. In short, Credit Unions. We connect employees to these ethical organisations through our platform, giving them access to the fair credit they deserve.

Partnering with responsible employers that want to offer a benefit that really matters, we are on a mission to bring fair finance to all. We want to put people back on track to saving, becoming debt-free, and being part of the co-operative financial community – one employee at a time!

Get in touch! Let’s be part of the movement to improve employee’s lives together!

Supporting Credit Unions through the #WorkNotWorry Campaign

Read time: 2 mins

Not enough savings and too much debt is a painfully stressful reality for millions of people across the UK. Credit unions are at the forefront of driving change and we, at FairQuid, are right beside them providing access to fair credit.

ABCUL (Association of British Credit Unions Limited) has launched the #WorkNotWorry campaign, with the aim to get more people to start saving and benefiting from credit unions. If you haven’t heard of them, credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial co-operatives. Members (anyone who has an account with them), enjoy the same saving deposit scheme protections and services as high street banks but with better benefits. They can earn dividends, so when the credit union and local community does well, so do the members.

What causes worry at work?

Research shows that 46% of employees are worried about money, and 59% of those feel they’re not performing at their bestbecause of this stress. It doesn’t help that 1 in 4 are not getting enough sleep, which is understandable when 16 million adults have less than £100 in savings, according to the Money Advice Service (MAS).

Media stories about record levels of debt and people with not enough savings always sound like these are problems that happen in other companies, to other people. However, as we know from working with companies across the country, these problems have an impact on more staff than companies realise.

It’s a scary reality that millions of people, including those with families to support, are carrying more debt than they can afford and living one pay cheque to the next. Together with the employer, we can change this.

What can employers do?

When employees are caught in a vicious cycle of perpetual debt they need practical help. As money worries persist, team members can become less productive, take time off sick, make mistakes, and could start looking for another job.

In partnership with credit unions, we offer a practical solution through our innovative wellbeing platform. At FairQuid, both our employee financial wellbeing products have attached savings components whether you Save as you Borrow or Save with a Purpose. We have found that when nudged to save, the majority keep saving after the debt has been fully paid, changing behaviour for the future and working towards becoming debt-free. Combined loan and saving payments come direct from net wages, making it easier for people to budget without having to find spare cash for savings.

Most financial institutions only use credit scores to assess eligibility for credit. However, we know that doesn’t give everyone the fairest chance at accessing finance when they need it most. With our partner credit unions, we reward employee loyalty by assessing eligibility on the length of service and performance. This way, we give employees a way out of debt and into savings, changing long-term attitudes to money, and significantly reducing stress at work.

We believe in the power of the community to help each other and therefore are proud to support credit unions to increase their impact and raise awareness through the #WorkNotWorry campaign.

Want to support your team where they need it most? Join the FairQuid movement and help your staff to #WorkNotWorry! Contact us today.

Improve Your Employee Financial Wellbeing With Practical Solutions

Once known as a nation of savers, UK consumers are now more likely to use credit than savings for emergencies and other purchases such as holidays.

Savings are at the lowest levels since 1963. Over a decade of low-interest rates since the recession, have made it easier to borrow and reduced the benefits of keeping money in savings accounts.

Since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) started collecting data on borrowing in 1987, UK households became net borrowers in 2017. A worrying trend. It means the amount people borrow now exceeds the amount they’re depositing in bank accounts, pushing savings ratios to record lows, currently at 4.9% of their disposable income.

We’ve seen this before

High levels of debt, governments, banks and property companies encouraging people to buy houses, low levels of savings, and some economic uncertainty. It sounds too familiar, too much like the opening scenes of the world economic meltdown.

Brexit doesn’t help matters either, throwing a whole other set of uncertainties into the mix.

A debt charity, StepChange spokeswoman, said to the BBC “If we could shift that balance a bit, especially for lower income households, we could improve the financial wellbeing of many households and prevent many experiencing problem debt.”

An accessible emergency savings fund of £1,000 per household would lift 500,000 out of problem debt. People could use savings when necessary, instead of turning to predatory lenders.

Can and should employers help?

Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to lend money to staff or increase wages. Companies can only afford salary increases in-line with their own budgets and revenue forecasts. Lending money comes with huge challenges and implications so isn’t always advisable either.

Financial education, although well-meaning, only goes so far and fails to tackle the real problem: Managing too much debt and not enough savings. Companies rarely get much of an ROI from such programs, and employees don’t feel the benefits.

Offering practical solutions, for a practical problem, is the way forward. FairQuid Employee Wellbeing Solutions are a practical solution that is proving popular amongst employees at companies we are working with. Members of your team can gain access to loans (with automatic, built-in savings accounts) from Credit Unions.

Not only do these services reduce employee financial stress, it means they can start saving straight away.

With debts reducing and savings growing, employee absence, time off due to stress, and turnover, reduces. Be a responsible business and join us to support employees to become debt-free, today.

Workforce Financial Health – Impact Analysis: The Story Behind the Numbers

FairQuid’s Financial Wellbeing Scheme gives employees the chance to save and provides them with access to ethical credit through a current and future view of their creditworthiness instead of a backward looking score view.

Savings contributions and loan repayments are taken directly from wages, ensuring employees can relieve financial stress without going through a cycle of decision making every month. Here are some recent statistics from employers we are working with.

Employee uptake: 21%

Benefits disconnect is frustrating for all. All Employers provide benefits with the genuine objective of ensuring it is a good fit for what employees need and want. The uptake of employees joining the Financial Wellbeing Scheme grew steadily throughout 2017, reaching 21% in December. Uptake jumped by 10% in the two-month period from October to December. This was driven by the holiday season with employees looking to improve finances over Christmas and into the new year.

Employee Benefit Loans are used to address a wide variety of needs. The most popular reason given by applicants was to consolidate credit cards, overdrafts and other debts.

As the Financial Wellbeing Scheme grows and employee saving increases, it is hoped that employees will be able to gain greater control over debt. Repayments made through payroll means there is no decision every month on how much of the balance to repay and how to carry forward. It also means that the money in the bank is not fighting with expenses ensuring the new year resolution to save is something one can stick to.

Unlike other employee benefit schemes – which cost employers money (FairQuid doesn’t cost for employers) – uptake is higher than Cycle to Work Scheme and gym memberships — both of which average uptake of 5% or less.

Improved savings to Income ratio: 39%

The scheme aims to help employees stay debt free, save regularly as a healthy habit and reduce reliance on high-interest lenders. In Q4 2017, average savings per net income ratio was two-times greater than Q2-Q3 2017. November recorded a high of 43%.

These results were helped by version two of our nudge initiative, based around the benefits of saving through payroll. The increase in savings shows how education coupled with actionable tools around saving has a real impact.

For the employees currently in the scheme, unexpected costs can be met without the need for expensive borrowing, reducing the endless cycle of debt. Based on multiple case studies after the introduction of the scheme, data shows that it continues to prove popular with both employers and employees.

Approval rates: 85-97%

Employee Benefit Loans give employees access to additional funds. At 85-97% approval rates for these loans, a high number of employees were able to access ethical credit without the need to approach high-street lenders or payday loan providers. The uptake and demand is well spread out in terms of Length of service/tenure at the employers.

What’s more, 15-20% of applicants had an impaired credit file. Without the Employee Benefit Loan and its use of length of service and performance to assess risk, the only other means of credit would have been through credit score-based pricing, resulting in extortionate interest rates, often in excess of 1,000%.

FairQuid’s, partner Credit Unions, base their decisions on a length-of-service model which ensures access to ethical credit isn’t impaired and a high number of employees can receive the funds they need.

Find out more

The Financial Wellbeing Scheme is helping employers build a financially sound workforce, ensuring staff are responsible with savings and budgeting. This, in turn, leads to happier employees, free of the stress and burden of debt.

To find out more about the scheme, visit:

Catalogue Goods & Appliances – their cost to an Employer?

With interest and unnecessary adds-ons (e.g. insurance), goods purchased from catalogue websites can cost up to three-times as much as the same item on the high-street. And payday loans don’t make for better reading, with interest rates as high as 1,500%.

It sounds like a consumer credit issue and not something linked to an employer one would think. However as progressive employers think of Financial Wellbeing under the holistic umbrella of improved mental health and overall wellbeing of the workforce it highlights key underlying issues that need to be addressed for the workforce.

Lack of Financial Education

We all know and demand financial education to be included in schools but we need to take some action for the workforce that is already out of schools and need it the most. The fact that objectively no one should be using these schemes and still the brands are seeing double/triple digit growth rates tells us that there is a dire need for financial education in the workplace.

Lack of Access to Essential Items

Access and cost of credit in this country is denied or exorbitant for people who would benefit from it the most. Pricing based on, backward looking, credit scores means, past haunts hard working folks indefinitely. Low levels of savings and flat wages mean many have to resort to expensive credit like rent to own even for essentials like Fridge or a washer. FairQuid’s Length of service and performance as a credit currency let’s employees present a more current and future view on their creditworthiness, through their employers. This becomes a very critical first step helping hand that many need.

Declining Rate of savings and reliance on expensive credit

The Regulator sees the problem, as Employers we need to also see the direct impact it has on staff productivity and health. We need to ensure that as we think of Financial education we make it actionable and easy for our teams to adopt and stick to good habits. Habits are formed over a period of time and hence programs like payroll savings make it easier for folks to not just opt in but to stick to it till the time it becomes a habit like tying your shoelaces.

Best Practice For Financial Wellbeing: Actionable Tools To Help Your Employees

It sounds cynical, but however much your employee loves their job, a big motivating factor in coming to work is the financial stability they get from it.

They exchange forty or so hours of their week for a wage that allows them to rent or mortgage a home, purchase food, drive a car, and have access to other services, including leisure activities.

When there is a risk to their financial stability, staff are unlikely to be motivated, and their efficiency is likely to be affected. Small amounts of stress aren’t necessarily considered a bad thing. Pressure to meet deadlines and targets could propel employees to do their best (as long as it isn’t applied too harshly or maintained for an extended period), and, theoretically, financial incentives such as commission for salespeople are more effective if they are appreciated – or necessary. However, stress, induced by money worries or otherwise, is likely to have a negative effect on an employee’s state of mind whilst working.

Losing sleep over money

Almost half of UK employees are worrying about their financial situation – and 18% are losing sleep over it. Stress prompts the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones which can cause significant harm throughout the body, affecting mood, memory, blood pressure, heart rate, and the immune system.

Employees can hardly be expected to perform at their best under such conditions: 1 in 20 staff have been absent from work an average of 4.2 days a year due to financial stress-induced illness, with 49% of stressed employees taking sick leave compared to 36% of those who aren’t as worried about money.

Alongside the run-up to Christmas, this time of year is probably one of the worst for employees’ stressing about money. It has a negative impact on productivity and can lead to time off sick or some looking for a new employer.

With the news that Carillion, the UK’s second-largest construction company, has gone into liquidation, threatening the jobs of its 20,000 UK workers, it’s evident that our current economic climate poses risks to financial security. Even organisations that are seemingly doing well can do more to prop their employees’ sense of financial well-being. Only you and your senior managers can take steps to ensuring your employees’ jobs are safe – but what about implementing other security nets?

Financial well-being services (that won’t cost a penny)

Many companies offer financial benefit packages – but employees are not always aware of what they can take advantage of. Bonuses are one benefit, but others might include investment opportunities, share schemes, and other ways of profiting from the success of the company.

One tool for promoting well-being at work is to make yourself an employer that is approachable, particularly when it’s a sensitive issue. Employees struggling with money might benefit from an advance on their wages, a loan, or asking for a wage increase; but often, they are embarrassed to broach the subject. Many people also believe that management will be unsympathetic to their concerns, with some even thinking that it could affect their prospects if they ask for more money.

Even if you are unable to help, remember to remain sympathetic, and perhaps point them in the direction of alternatives, such as a FairQuid employee financial well-being savings or debt consolidation solution.

Inflation coupled with the stagnation of wage growth has seen a narrowing of disposable income. The first quarter of 2017 saw disposable income, adjusted by inflation, shrink by 0.4% – the greatest drop in almost three years. As households feel the pinch, they are more likely to rely on credit cards or turn to payday loans to fund their spending. With high interest and missed payment charges, the amount being paid back can quickly add up and be in excess of what was originally borrowed.

Saving for a “rainy day” has always been considered worthwhile: a few pounds every week can soon grow into a fund that can be dipped into in emergencies.

However, the fourth quarter of 2016 saw the lowest savings ratio since records began in 1963, falling sharply from 5.3% previously to 3.3%. The ratio, which represents how much of a household’s disposable income is set aside for saving, increased in 2017 back to 5.5% and standing at 5.2% in the latest reported quarter of Q3 2017 (see chart below). However, it is still falling short of previous years like 2015, which saw highs of 9.7%. It seems that British homes are struggling to set money aside from their disposable income.

A sensible, proactive solution

A FairQuid savings account, with partner Credit Unions, is designed for your employees. Rather than an employee taking money from their disposable income – what is left after bills, food, and rent is paid for – to put into their savings – the money is taken directly from their wage even before they receive it.

Instead of savings being relegated to “whatever’s left over” at the end of the month, it is the first outgoing, so it can never be spent, whether accidentally or on purpose. In fact, since the employee will never hold the total amount (that is, their wage including the savings), they are less likely to miss it.

With one cost already removed from their consideration, employees can budget more effectively with what is left over. And, since they are part of member-owned credit unions, participants can benefit from healthy dividends on their savings – so paying in also pays out.

Creating financial security is about more than creating more disposable income for your employees. Peace of mind contributes to a healthy body, a focussed mindset, and an overall happier outlook.

Financial Well-being: The last taboo of the workplace? – Barclays
Financial well-being: the employee view – CIPD

The Holiday Hangover

How repayments and debt consolidation can help your finances recover

January: a financial wasteland month. All the fun and excitement of Christmas has worn off, and what we’re left with is the financial implications of the seasonal excess.

It was expected that last Christmas the average UK adult would spend £243.77 on Christmas presents alone, a 1.4% increase from last year. This figure, of course, excludes the additional costs of the holiday that are often neglected from the gift buying budget, including the dinner with all the trimmings plus the decorations. In total, the Christmas spending was estimated to increase by 1.3% since 2016 reaching £821 for an average family, while the household saving ratio has dropped to a record low level of 5.2% in Q3 2017 (see the chart below).

Most adults also buy more alcohol and nibbles, outfits and decorations than normal – and that’s just entertaining at home, without factoring in those end-of-work parties and pub get-togethers.

Excessive debt everywhere

Once Boxing Day is over, the festivities don’t end: New Year’s Eve and Day are just around the corner, with excess expected into early January. So it’s no surprise that Christmas can hit our wallets hard, despite our best intentions.

Last year it was reported that roughly 50% of Brits would be paying off 2016’s Christmas a year later, and there’s nothing to suggest that the same won’t happen this year. With anxieties about providing the “perfect Christmas”, including satisfying children’s wishes for must-have presents and hosting family events, it’s understandable that we go all out to ensure everyone has a good time. And there are meals out, day trips with the kids, nights out with friends … it all adds up.

But when the party’s over, how can we regain control over our runaway finances – and exert better control over them for next time?

Christmas on credit is becoming alarmingly common, with a third of Brits either borrowing money or buying items on credit to be paid off later. The UK is struggling under an alarmingly high £200bn of personal debt, with 35% of that attributed to credit cards.

Making affordable repayments on these after an exuberant Christmas can often mean paying a minimum sum – sometimes just enough to cover the interest payments, meaning that we’re stuck in debt for longer. Sometimes we can free ourselves from debt just in time for next Christmas, and just in time for new credit spending, and so we find ourselves trapped in a cycle of borrowing and repaying.

With so many credit options to choose from, including store cards, credit cards, and payday loans, it can be tempting to borrow a little here and a little there – which makes it harder to keep track of where the money is going, and how much the interest is adding up with varying APRs.

Consolidation loans

A consolidated loan is a simpler way of managing debt. Once those variable interest cards and loans are paid off, you’ve left with easily-monitored credit: one monthly payment, one fixed rate. With only one monthly outgoing, you’re less likely to miss a payment and incur fees, and, even better, you can have it taken directly from your wage. That way, you’re less likely even to notice the deduction from your monthly allowance (or to accidentally spend it).

FairQuid Credit Union consolidation loans also come with a savings account starting from £10 a month, so even while you’re paying off the expenses of last Christmas, you can be preparing for the next one, or saving for a holiday.

With a savings account, the cost of paying for next Christmas is spread out in advance over the year – but without interest rates to worry about. The double benefits of a consolidation loan and a savings account mean that not only can you pull yourself out of debt, but you’re well-prepared for larger costs, expected (like the Christmas holidays) or unexpected (why do boilers always seem to break down on the coldest week of the year?).

New Year resolutions can often be vague, such as promises to work out ‘more’ and to ‘do better’ with money. To Start Saving with FairQuid is one concrete method of keeping your finances in order. It takes back control of your debt as well as taking charge of your savings, and when it’s all done directly from your payslip, it’s one resolution that is easy to keep.

When you plan ahead, not only can you escape the almost-inevitable sinking into debt to prepare for Christmas, but the holidays themselves become more enjoyable without that pressure of worrying how it will all be paid for later. After all, Christmas is a time for celebration, not for contributing to anxiety about money in the new year. Start Saving today