Tammy May, founder and director of MyBudget, is expecting a 30 per cent increase on people seeking her firm’s advice in the wake of 2014 Christmas spending spree. As the name implies, MyBudget helps people control their debt. Ignoring holiday debt, says Ms May, can cause lasting financial strain throughout the rest of the year.

With this year’s Christmas sales breaking all previous retail records there will likely be a few people seeking her skills.

Ms May’s advice is to “… take a good look at your income and expenses over the next few months and make sure you have enough to make ends meet.

“Even if you are not a regular budgeter, his is the time to look at a budget.”

Consumer group Choice found, in a pre-Christmas survey, that the amount of expected credit card debt would not likely be paid off at the end of the interest free period.

Low income earners predicted they would rack up an average of $358 on credit, middle income earners said they would amass $609, while high income earners estimated their spend to be $876.

Even more significant was the warning from money expert Michelle Hutchison (from Finder.com.au) that record numbers of Australians had been looking for more credit options in December of last year.

What needed to be remembered was that once the interest-free period expired consumers would be charged punitive interest rates – with the average being around 20 per cent.

“If you are starting the year with a credit card deby,” said Ms Hutchison, “and won’t be able to afford to pay it off straight away, it’s worth considering a balance transfer credit card. There are over 100 balance transfer deals at zero per cent interest up to 16 months.”

However, she warned shoppers to carefully check the fees associated with these cards.

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