Yes, it’s that time of year again, Christmas is a favourite for many but a nightmare for some. It polarises opinion but love it or hate it one thing is guaranteed every Christmas; people in the UK will feel pressure to spend, spend and spend some more.
Can Christmas be survived without financial stress, or the negative effects of debt? As a nation it seems not; we are guilty of overspending – recent research found that households in the UK expect to spend an average of £473.83 on presents this year, making us far more profligate than our European neighbours (that figure is just £273.48 in France, and £344.09 in Germany). Retailers predict that £1.1bn will be spent on toys alone this Christmas, while Bank of England statistics show that a typical household will spend at least an extra £500 in December.
A poll conducted for the Money Advice Trust found a significant proportion of people relying on credit to get through the Christmas season with some missing payments on household bills to cope financially. With so many people in the UK struggling with problem debt – more than a third of Britons will borrow money to cover the cost of presents this year – is Christmas really worth getting into debt for?
How can people negotiate the perilous Christmas season without going into debt? Despite what the advertisers would have us believe, there are ways to arrange your finances so that Christmas doesn’t leave you paying off debt for the rest of the year:
- Buy Christmas gifts throughout the whole year, starting in January if necessary and using a pre-determined budget. This is a sure-fire way to ensure all your gifts are bought and paid for before December appears
- If you have children and are struggling financially, explain to the children that they may not receive as much as previous years and/or other children, and the reasons for this. Being honest with your children ensures they understand the financial circumstances, and presents an excellent future example– if you can’t afford it, don’t go into debt for it
- Following on from this, give children the gift of your time. Children love spending quality time with their parents; package these up as gifts – a day in the park or a day of activities of their choice. Making children the centre of attention could be the most valuable gift of all
- Don’t compare your presents to other people on social media – keep in mind social media will not give an honest portrayal of other people’s Christmases. Social media users make everything look ‘perfect’. Who knows, maybe their hordes of presents under the tree are empty boxes or worst still, maybe they’ve gone into debt just to secure that ‘perfect’ Christmas-gifts-under-the tree profile picture. Staying completely away from social media, or simply not comparing or competing with other people on social media, will ensure you don’t get carried away with your Christmas spending
If you are struggling financially this Christmas, give these suggestions a try. Remember, Christmas is not worth going into debt over. Feel free to talk with your nearest and dearest about money this Christmas and if buying the perfect present for everyone is a struggle don’t be afraid to tell them – they’ll understand. Red Star Education encourages people to have discussions about money, try it this Christmas.