Christmas, Paying Off Debt

A Christmas Caution: Nearly 1/3 Of Brits Risk A Debt Hangover Lasting Well Into The New Year

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With Christmas just around the corner, there’s no avoiding it. Trees are up, lights are on, carols are playing on the radio and preparations are in full swing, with people pulling out all the stops to get ready for the festive season.

For what is supposedly the most magical time of the year a lot of people are feeling pressure, especially financially, to be able to afford the cost of Christmas and all that comes along with it.

A recent survey carried out by debt charity StepChange as part of their #ChristmasDebt campaign, found that 68% of people surveyed will struggle to comfortably afford festivities this year, with 31% turning to credit to cover costs, the largest of which being presents for friends and family.

These debts are unlikely to be able to repaid until late summer 2020 – meaning that by the time the debt hangover from this year is over, it’s almost time for the next year’s celebrations to begin, inevitably leading to a continuing cycle of credit and debt, year on year.

 

“Celebrating the festive season is fun but getting into debt for it isn’t…If you’re already in debt, don’t let the pressure or expectation that Christmas can put on you make you feel you have to spend.”
Richard Lane, StepChange

 

Despite the obvious pressures to spend experienced by so many, the survey also found that most people (75%), stated that ‘the most important thing about Christmas is spending time with friends and family’.

So here are some quick tips to enjoy the festive time, whilst avoiding a ‘buy now, pay later’ Christmas on credit.

 

Think first, buy later

Most of the expectations for spending certain amounts on gifts, or even for buying gifts in the first place come from ourselves rather than others. Would your loved ones really want you to go into debt buying them a gift? Consider making a ‘no present’ pact with family or friends to save money this year.

If gift giving is a non negotiable part of your festive celebrations then a secret Santa can be a great way to go. Agree a budget, all names go into a hat and each person gets one person to buy for. This way, you save time and money and each person can receive a gift that potentially has more thought and effort put in. You can even use a free online generator to set it up, so it’s no hassle at all!

 

Quick Saving Tips

Christmas Gift Shopping

  • Shop around for a good deal – price comparison sites can help show you where to find the best price.
  • Find a discount – browser extension Honey will automatically search for the best discount codes available and our DealsFinder tool can help seek out the best discounts on Amazon.
  • Get cashback – shopping via websites such as Quidco or Topcashback will often reward you with a percentage of your shopping costs back as cashback.

Festive Food

  • Don’t be a brand snob – cheaper brands often are as good quality and taste just as good (and are often produced in the factories, just labelled differently!)
  • Bring and Share – if you’re having people over for food, considering asking them to bring dessert/sides/drinks.
  • Don’t overbuy – think about how much you actually need and will get used.

Christmas is a time to be enjoyed, but with 1/3 of people already making cutbacks in their spending to be able to afford it, and 17% struggling to make ends meet as it is, sitting back and considering what’s really important this year could be the key to resisting the financial pressures played upon by both retailers and credit providers.

“If it’s going to take many months to repay what you borrow to pay for Christmas, it’s worth pausing for a moment to think about whether your friends and family would really want you to suffer financially as a result of your generosity. Most people would much prefer their loved ones to have a financially happy new year than a swanky present.”
Richard Lane, Stepchange

 

If you are struggling with debt, whether that’s Christmas related or not, you can access free and confidential debt advice with StepChange.

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