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Two thirds of working households claim they are JAMs

Half of those with an annual household income of over £70,000 feel they are just about managing financially.

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  • Almost two thirds (60%) of UK working households with children feel they are just about managing financially; 6% confess they simply aren't managing at all.

  • One in five working households (18%) have less than £100 a month to spare after they've paid essential bills and one in three (32%) rely on their overdraft to get through.

  • It might not be the best financial start to the New Year as one in five working households will be forced to use their overdraft by the 10th January 2017. 18% admit it's not authorised, costing up to £690 a year on average.

  • The reality is, almost half (44%) of households admit they run out of money part way through the month on a regular basis; this is the case for one in three (31%) households with an income of more than £70,000.

  • Households that run out of money rely on credit cards (26%) and the bank of family and friends (21%). A further 9% turn to payday loans or dip into their children's savings - borrowing an average of £82 a month to get through.

New research1 from independent comparison website money.co.uk reveals almost two thirds (60%) of UK households consider themselves to be just about managing financially or, as they're more affectionately known by the Government, 'JAMs'. This is the social economic group the Government pledged to help in the recent Autumn Statement.

Whilst there is no clear definition, these families tend to have at least one person working in the household and 'just about manage' financially each month on an income of between £12,000 to £34,0002.

Recent research2 estimates there are around six million 'JAM' households in the UK. Our research, which was carried out across 1,000 UK working households with children, tells a slightly different story.

It shows that being a JAM is not 'just' about income. It reveals that whilst it's more of a problem for 71% of those on household incomes of £30,000 or less, half of those surveyed with an annual household income of over £70,000 consider themselves JAMs and are struggling to get by each month. This indicates that they could be, wait for it, homemade JAMs.

In the red by the 10th Jan?

It might not be the best financial start to the New Year as one in six working households will be forced to use their overdraft as early as the 10th of January 2017. 18% admit it's not authorised, which could cost them up to £6903 a year in interest on average, plus penalty charges for missed or bounced payments.

For one in five (21%), an overdraft is something they rely on every month. When we asked households with an income of £70,000 or more, 43% claim they use an overdraft every month and 9% admit it's not authorised.

Can't get through the month financially?

Running out of money part way through the month is a regular reality for almost half (44%) of UK working households.

For one in five households, this happens every month. Again, this is a problem faced by almost a third (31%) of households with an income of more than £70,000.

Payday loan or kid's piggy bank?

More than a quarter (26%) of the households that regularly run out of money during the month rely on credit cards to get by - 70% typically borrow £127 each month.

One in five opts for a lower interest option and visit the bank of family and friends to borrow money to get them through the month (21%). A further 9% either turn to payday loans or dip into their children's savings accounts or piggy banks - borrowing an average of £82 a month to make ends meet.

Commenting on the findings, Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, said:

"For many people, just about managing is the harsh reality of only just having enough cash coming in to cover essential bills. For others, it could simply be a case of poor money management. It's fair to say no one ever feels they have 'enough' money, but living life in the red is both distressing and soul destroying as you never really feel you're getting anywhere.

"You instinctively feel better about the parts of your life you are in control of. Being in control of your finances is key for peace of mind.

"It's surprising so many people on decent incomes are finding themselves just getting by. It just shows that how well you manage financially is really down to how tight a grip you have on your purse strings.

"Whatever your income, the best way to be better off is to check where your money is going, create a budget, and make simple switches that could quite literally save you thousands of pounds a year.

"If you only make one resolution for 2017, promise yourself you'll give yourself a financial check-up and take control of your cash. If you think of it as giving yourself a pay rise, spending an hour or two giving your finances some TLC seems a whole lot more appealing."

Hannah's top tips to detox your finances in 2017

  • Budget - it may sound too simplistic, but your biggest win this year will be to make a budget. Knowing what you've got coming in and going out each month is key to getting control of your cash.

  • If you've got more going out than you've got coming in - work out where can you cut back to regain control of your finances.

  • 50/30/20 rule - if you can, this is a good guide as to how you could divide your income. Half could be reserved for essential bills, rent/mortgage, gas, electric etc. A third (30%) for lifestyle choices such as going out, takeways etc. The last 20% should be saved to give you the peace of mind of a rainy day pot.

  • Give yourself a pay rise - look at all the things you have to spend money on and check how you can make them cheaper. Whether it's switching mortgage, paying off credit cards with savings, or moving energy company; set aside some time and give yourself a pay rise by shifting to more competitive deals.

  • Reclaim - it's worth checking whether you were mis-sold PPI or hit with unfair bank charges in the past or if you're entitled to compensation for delayed flights or trains. You can check this easily, so don't pay a company to do it for you. You might get nothing but you could be owed £100s back.

  • Groceries - not something you'd naturally think of switching, but it's worth comparing the cost of your regular shop at each of the major supermarkets near you because it could help you cut the cost. Mysupermarket.com gives you an easy way to do this and it helps you port your online basket over to your cheapest supermarket too.

  • Get serious with your fun money - whether your weakness is takeout coffee, shop-bought lunch or a cheeky pint, the cost of small spends can really add up. Think about where all of your fun money is going and see if you can make small swaps that add up to big savings.

  • Make money from your hobby - if cash is short in your house, what can you do to make a little bit more? Rent out a spare room? Dog walk or baby sit? There are many options, maybe it's time to get creative?

  • Sell, sell, sell - how many things do you have in your cupboards or your loft that you never use? Why not sell them on your local Facebook page, at car boot sales or on eBay? It might be quite addictive, not to mention profitable.

Notes to editors: 1. Research carried out on behalf of money.co.uk with OnePoll amongst 1,000 full time employed people in a relationship with at least one child at home under the age of 18 between 10th December 2016 and 22nd December 2016. 2. Resolution Foundation 3. Moneyfacts Group Plc

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Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

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Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

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About Hannah Maundrell

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