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Day 5. Christmas Debt

1 in 5 Could End Up in Debt, Post-Christmas.

You are not alone. Help & support is available.

Words reading 'Months of Debt for 1 in 5 Brits Post-Christmas' above a money jar with coins dropping in.The average person in the UK gets into £439 of debt over Christmas, and it takes an average of four months to recover from this debt. There is a common misconception that those who end up in debt are irresponsible with their money, when the reality is that there are many reasons people end up in debt after Christmas, and many do not have a choice.

According to research by National Debtline UK, over one in three adults borrow money to pay for Christmas gifts; one in five put their Christmas food shop on some form of credit; and one in twenty will miss a bill payment over the Christmas period, because they cannot afford pay it.

So, what can we do to make sure we don’t overspend, beyond our means this Christmas?

Christmas is one day. 1 out of 365. Don’t let society pressure you into debt for the remaining 364 days of the year, just for 1 day. Not everyone can avoid being in debt, we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis, and debt for many is unavoidable. But you can help yourself this Christmas by eliminating debt caused by overspending during the festive season.

Children’s Expectations

The matter of Santa Claus is one that can put immense pressure on parents to do whatever it takes to make sure children are not disappointed on Christmas morning. One way around this is to rethink the concept of the traditional Letter to Santa. Children typically list everything they want to receive from Father Christmas but it may be time we re-think this approach. Try and replace lists that request specific items, by asking your children to explain to Santa the ways in which they have been ‘good’ this year, what their interests are, and what they are passionate about, in order to help Father Christmas to create the perfect gift for them. This way, children can still receive a gift on Christmas that they will love, without the expectation of a big expensive toy they requested on their list to Santa. You can also limit the amount of items on their list, or make it fun but also practical for your spending. For example if they are allowed to ask for 5 things, these might be one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing that replaces something old, one thing for sport, and one thing for school. You can do it any way that suits your budget but still ensures a happy Christmas. Don’t let comparison with other Children or families leave you in debt, or ruin the magic of Christmas.  

Seek Help

Don’t be embarrassed to take up the help that is available in your community. Food banks and local charities can offer invaluable support during the winter months, and especially during times like Christmas. School holidays are also an added expense, and charities such as Resurrected Bites – a give as you can cafe, are there to help you make it through Christmas without landing yourself in added debt. Places such as these cafes will also offer networks of support, and help the realisation that you are not alone.

The True Value of Christmas

Such methods as noted above can help cut the costs of gifts on Christmas day. But, if we want to make such cost-cutting efforts a long-term plan, we must consider what we truly value during the festive season – spending money, or spending time?

Do you remember every gift you have received on Christmas day? Have you been buying stocking fillers just for the sake of it? There is more to Christmas than gifts, and you are more likely to remember the memories you make on Christmas day playing games and laughing with your family, than the chocolate orange you got in your stocking.

Focus on the memories, the laughs, the time spent with loved ones that you won’t have forever and the sense of community that many see at Christmas time. Don’t let yourself incur avoidable debt because society said you should spend beyond your means this Christmas.

If You do Find Yourself in Debt This Christmas

There is support available if you are struggling with debt this Christmas:

If you feel you your debt is impacting your mental health, you can also call 111, or in the case of a medical emergency always call 999.