New research by finds that nearly two thirds of Brits blame the early December pay cheque for their Christmas over spend.

  • It will take nearly half (47%) of Brits up to six months to clear their Christmas debt
  • Over 80% repeatedly overspend every year in December after receiving their early pay cheque
  • Over a third believe that early December pay makes it harder for them to manage their finances
  • Over a third of Brits will rely on credit cards, payday, bank or family loans once their December pay cheque runs out
  • Almost three quarters of the nation state that the temptation to over spend and pressure for a perfect Christmas are the top reasons for overspending their early pay cheque

Christmas will be coming early for nearly a third of Brits this year with the arrival of an early December pay cheque, however this festive windfall will prove to be more of a financial nightmare for many of us, according to research released today by

Having our bank account temporarily bolstered is blamed by nearly two thirds of Brits (58%) for their overspending in December, with over half (51%) stating that it will take them up to a year to repair the damage to their finances. This is hardly surprising as only a third (34%) of Brits state that they have a set Christmas budget that they are capable of sticking to.

This quick injection of Christmas cash and the feeling of being flush are often short lived, with over a third (36%) of the nation admitting that they will have to rely on credit cards, payday, bank or family loans to get them through the season’s excesses, once their early pay cheque runs out.

The top five reasons for Brits to over spend at Christmas cited as:

1. Temptation to overspend (57%)

2. Pressure to have the perfect Christmas (40%)

3. Failure to budget (33%)

4. Being bad at managing money (30%)

5. Refusal to worry about money at Christmas (19%)

6. Losing track of spending (19%)

Despite nearly a third of Brits (31%) revealing that they believe that this early payday has a negative effect on our finances, it seems that they are still creatures of habit with 80% stating that they will make this same mistake every December when they receive their early pay cheque.

“This repeated cycle of financial problems is an example of a ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach to money management,” states Dr. Thomas Webb, Social Psychologist at The University of Sheffield and Chair of The Institute of Inertia.

“People are filled with a false sense of festive financial confidence and rarely spare a thought for how they are going to make their money last until the end of January. We call this ‘the ostrich problem’ because many people prefer not to think about issues like money over Christmas. However, to prevent a miserable start to the New Year, people need to be more realistic about how far their money will stretch at Christmas time, and with a little planning avoiding getting into debt can be easier than you think.”

“Our message would be for the nation to remember that a pay cheque might not be for life, but should be for more than just Christmas!”

The Institute of Inertia is a partnership between and the University of Sheffield designed to tackle the issue of inertia amongst consumers. The Institute’s advisory panel, which will provide strategic advice and real life solutions to consumers to help drive habitual change, has been hand picked for their combined knowledge and expertise in personal and consumer finance, consumer behaviour, policy and research.

A OnePoll survey conducted in December 2015 sample size of 2,000 adults (aged 18+) representative of the UK population as a whole.

About the Institute of Inertia

  • The Institute of Inertia is a partnership between and the University of Sheffield, launched in 2015 to look at the psychology behind financial inertia and, ultimately, to help consumers to save otherwise wasted time and money.
  • The Institute of Inertia is a network of experts and academics led by The University of Sheffield’s Dr Thomas Webb, a social psychologist and specialist in understanding how people achieve (and struggle to achieve) their goals.
  • A programme of qualitative research informs the Institute of Inertia and helps to shape and test potential solutions to drive behavioural change.  
  • For more information on the Institute of Inertia, please visit   

Institute of Inertia Advisory Panel

  • For more information on the panel and its members, please see attached PDF


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