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December in review: a snapshot of the finance stories you need to know

ClearScore brings you the major finance stories from December as 2015 comes to an end. Top stories include the Fed’s interest rate rise and concerns over personal debt levels from the Bank of England

It’s official: we in the UK are the most generous people on earth. At least when it comes to buying Christmas presents. Research from Dutch Bank ING has found that the British spend more than any other nation on Christmas presents: an impressive £308 each on average. That’s £44 more than the US who were the second biggest spenders.

If you have Romanian or Czech relatives you’re also in luck. They spend more than any other nationalities as a proportion of their monthly income (32% and 25% respectively). On the other hand, the Dutch are the global scrooges, spending just €40, or £29, on average.

Our generosity comes at a price, however. ING also found that the British and Romanians were the most likely to put Christmas on credit. The bank found that 15% of us went into debt last Christmas. Another study this month, by Aldermore Bank, estimated that nearly a quarter of us pay for Christmas on credit cards.

The Bank of England is worried about our levels of personal debt too. According to figures released at the end of November, personal debts in the UK have reached their highest level in ten years. The Bank says lending increased at an annualised rate of 8.2% in October, which it described as “a rate of knots”. The news led debt charities to warn about the risks of relaxing lending regulations. Peter Tutton, head of policy at the debt charity StepChange, said: “It is vital that responsible lending standards do not relax at a time when many households are still financially vulnerable”.

If you are worried about festive financial freefall, then have a look at these three tips for a debt free Christmas at The Mirror online. They include finding the right credit card for the job and making sure you stay on top of your credit score, which you can do for free at ClearScore.

Across the pond, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates. Although the raise was only small, 0.25%, it was the first raise since 2006, almost 10 years ago.

The US rate rise means that a similar rise by the Bank of England in the UK may be a little closer, although experts suggest it probably won’t happen until late next year at the earliest. When it does, the cost of borrowing may go up a little, unless you’re on a fixed rate loan, but this will be balanced out for many people by slightly better returns on savings.

If all this wasn’t exciting enough for one month, we also announced the launch of ClearScore’s app. This is the very first app in the UK to offer completely free credit scores and reports for everyone on their mobile. The app also features a handy notifications feature which will tell you when your credit score updates so you can keep track of your score easily. You can download the app for iOS or for Android.

 

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