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Cancelling Holidays and Paying Off Debts. Good Sign or Bad Sign?

Jul 30, 2008
If you're in a hole, stop digging - it's true of most things, and it's certainly true of debt. So maybe The Times brought us good news when it announced that 58% of Britons were planning to cut back on their summer holidays, and 19% canceling their summer holiday plans altogether. Maybe it's encouraging to see people re-prioritising, keeping their money for essential things like rent, food and petrol.

On the other hand, it's worrying to see so many cutting back on their holidays. Holidays might not be 'essential', but many of us see them as an important annual tradition: a reward for a year of hard work and a way to relax and 'recharge the batteries' before returning to the realities of bills, debts and work. It's hard not to wonder how many people aren't choosing to economize, but cutting back because they simply have no choice.

However you view the statistics, debt isn't the only reason for these cutbacks. There's also the credit crunch, the rising cost of living and the weakness of the Pound against the Euro. Cumulatively, these factors are nothing but bad news for people in the tourism industry. And since the travel and tourism industry employs over 120,000 people (according to the Institute of Travel & Tourism), this could well translate into bad news for economy. After the recent massive job losses among home-builders and estate agents, any threat to the travel and tourism industry could easily damage consumer confidence further and reduce the average consumer's spending power.

On an individual level, of course, the impact could be much more immediate. How many of those 120,000 people are deep in debt - absolutely reliant on their next paycheque just to stay on top of their debt repayments?

It's a serious problem: many financial experts advise people to set aside at least 3 months' salary for a rainy day, but how many are able to do that? With record levels of personal debt and escalating cost of living, millions of people are struggling to afford their essential living costs and debt repayments, so saving is simply out of the question.

The 'silver lining', the optimists say, is that hardship reminds people of why that safety net is so important. The next time the tough times come around, we promise ourselves, we'll be ready for them, with our debts paid off and our 3 months' salary safely in the bank.

Saving, however, is rarely a good idea when there are debts to be paid off. Whatever interest a savings account might accrue, it's unlikely to be as much as the interest charged on the debts. So for anyone in debt, step one has to be getting out of debt, and the best way of doing that varies from person to person.

Debt management plans, debt consolidation loans / mortgages, Trust Deeds, Individual Voluntary Arrangements, even bankruptcy... Each debt solution comes with its own unique pros and cons, but they do have one thing in common: they all tend to work better when people talk to a debt adviser as soon as they realize they're in financial trouble. In general, the longer someone leaves it before they look into debt solutions, the harder it'll be.
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