How much does a holiday really cost?

We are now well into the school summer holidays and for a good number of us the month of August carries with it the promise of a short break away. However, research from estimates that two and a half million British adults will go into debt this year when they go on holiday. This is twice the number at this time last year!

Additionally, according to Credit Action, over one third (34%) of holiday makers fail to set a budget for spending while they are away.

Do you know how much a week’s £1000 apartment holiday in Spain really costs? It is only when we budget realistically that we are able to determine where we are able to go for a holiday each year. Staying with family or friends can often provide some of the most enjoyable times and will usually help to reduce your outgoings.

Gingerbread | One Parent Families have produced a free guide with 50 Inspirational Ideas for Summer Family Fun on a Budget. Check it out for tips on how to have a good time without breaking the bank balance.

Please read on for a summary of the top personal finance news stories for the week beginning 21st July 2008.

Wednesday 23rd July

Mortgage approvals fall 23% – The British Bankers Association (BBA) revealed that the number of new mortgage approvals by mainstream lending organisations has fallen 23% since May 2008.

As the credit crunch continues to affect both businesses and consumers it is becoming more and more difficult to take out a mortgage or get any form of credit. Even if you are able to obtain a mortgage, it is important that you understand all the mortgage and non-mortgage options. Look at the Mortgage section of Moneybasics to get yourself clued up.

Thursday 24th July

Retail sales slow –The volume of retail sales fell 3.9% in June compared to May, the largest decrease since records began in 1986 according to the Office of National Statistics. However, this figure on its own paints an inaccurate picture of the situation. When retail figures for June 2008 are compared to the same month in 2007, a 3.4% rise in retail sales emerges.

However, overall the empirical data suggests that retail sales are in decline. This reinforces other macroeconomic factors that have shown that the economy is slowing down.

Consumers act to reduce fraud losses –APACS, the Association of Payment Clearing Services, said that reported losses due to online banking fraud fell 33% to £34m in the first six months of 2008.

Despite this Sandra Quinn, of APACS, said: “...we strongly urge banking customers to make sure that they remain wary of online banking scams such as unsolicited e-mails claiming to be from their bank.” Identity Fraud continues to be a problem all of us must be wary of. Make sure that you’re not a victim.

Friday 25th July

Economy grows by 0.2% -The UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the primary way of measuring the growth of an economy – was 0.2% in the second quarter of 2008 (April – June). This signals that the economy is slowing down while also showing we are not is a recession. To have technical recession, there needs to be two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Financial compensation claims down by 33% –The number of claims received by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for 2007 is down 33% from 2006 to 16,500 claims.

45% of the claims that the FSCS dealt with received some form of payout with the average at £1,800. To find out more about this vital form of consumer protection visit

Energy prices on the rise –One of the main stories dominating the headlines this week was the continuing rise of gas and electricity prices. Back in 2002, oil prices were relatively stable at US$25 a barrel, whereas this week oil prices fell slightly to US$125 a barrel – a rise of US$100 a barrel in the last six years.

If you are feeling squeezed by the rising cost of living try having another look at your budget and see where you can cut unnecessary spending. If you haven’t created a Budget yet, I bet you’ll be surprised how much you can save when you discover where all your money goes each week.

Prepared for Moneybasics by Jason Taylor, Advocacy Officer (Credit Action).