Shoppers don’t do themselves credit

26 October 2006, MX

More than two-thirds of city workers had not been able to significantly reduce personal debt in the past three months, a survey found.

A Newspoll survey commissioned by the debt relief company Fox Symes also found that 14% said debt were worse.

The survey of 1200 Australians found 20% said the ability to pay had worsened.

It comes after the Reserve Bank revealed Australia's credit card bill reached $37 billion in August - or $2,281 per card.

Australians charged $16.46 billion to 13 million credit cards during that month while repayments totaled 16.68 billion.

Cash advances from credit cards fell by 4.4%.

But the $20 billion owed at the start of the month was only slightly reduced.

Debt relief expert Deborah Southon said almost a third of people increased debt after buying a new car or signing up for a new subscription service.

A growing number of people admitted to buying essential items on credit because they had no cash.

"The fact that Australians are listing cost-of-living items, live groceries, as a reason for falling into debt, should sound alarm bells in households across the country." Southon said.

Workers should spend five minutes of their train trip home to keep a spending diary.

"Reflect on the rain what you have spent and keep a diary for a week or month, people might be surprised about the unexpected costs." Southon said. Shoppers should not rely on credit to buy Christmas gifts.

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