New research from Nationwide not only confirms next week will be the most painful financially but that this January is also set to be the worst in memory.
A combination of ongoing cost-of-living pressure, tied with the usual post-Christmas financial woes, is leading many to consider getting financial support – some for the first time – as they approach a personal ‘tipping point’.
The poll of more than 2,000 people comes as Nationwide encourages customers worried about their finances to talk to someone face-to-face in a branch. Britain’s biggest building society believes people still value branches and promises that everywhere it has a branch, it will still be there until at least 2026.
With the excitement of Christmas over, the start of a new year is often seen as a testing time for people’s personal finances. New research shows over half of people (52%) say January is the time of the year that causes the most financial stress, with more than eight in 10 (84%) confirming they expect this January to be the hardest yet financially.
And as the January blues build, the reasons behind this added pressure and stress is down to a combination of factors. Over half of Brits (51%) blame heightened Christmas spending, while over four in ten point (43%) towards increased energy costs in the winter, while the added debt due to the cost of living is a significant factor for over a third (37%).
This additional pressure means 46 per cent of people are more likely to seek support due to financial pressures this year than in previous years. This rises to 63 per cent for those living in Greater London.
When it comes to seeking help, more than half (51%) of people have a tipping point where they would rather receive advice in person than online, rising to nearly two thirds (65%) of 18–24-year-olds. More than a quarter (26%) say they feel more reassured when receiving support and advice on managing finances in person.
The top reasons for speaking to someone in person are:
- Feeling overwhelmed or confused by online help: 31%
- Feeling stressed about managing money or debt: 28%
- Worried about fraud/scams: 24%
- Upset following a bereavement or health problems: 21%
- 16% have seen their mortgage payments go up, increasing to 31 per cent of those in Greater London.
- Some 19 per cent of people expect to visit their local branch more to help manage their finances, increasing to 34 per cent of those living in Greater London.
Mandy Beech, Director of Retail Services, said: “Having the ability to speak to someone about worries or concerns has never been more important than it is now, given the continued pressure on living costs. We see it time and time again in our branches, which is what led us to offering cost of living support – whether in branches, on the phone or online. We are fully prepared to support customers this winter as more come under financial pressure.
“Because we still believe in face-to-face service and we have listened to our customers, we have committed to keeping all our branches open until at least 2026. We also have a branch manager in every branch, since for many there is no substitute for physical reassurance. When it matters most, whether someone needs help with money worries or bigger life events like a first mortgage or the sad loss of a family member, our customers know we will be there for them, regardless of how they want to use us.”