How Much Will You Be Relying on Debt This Christmas?

real cost of christmas
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real cost of christmas

A recent survey conducted for StepChange Debt Charity has shown that nearly 1/3 of Brits will have to borrow money to afford to pay for their Christmas and that it will on average take 7.5 months to pay that debt back.

Isn’t that crazy? I mean, it’s not really a huge surprise. People feel an overwhelming sense of pressure at this time of year. But to spend 7.5 months of the new year paying for this Christmas, only to do it all again a couple of months later?

The figures show that 34% of people surveyed said they’ll have to cut their spending to afford Christmas this year, but a further 17% said that they would struggle just to make ends meet.

It saddens me that this is the reality for some people, in this day and age. I’m by no means flush, but I’m fortunately not in the position where I HAVE to take on debt just to afford the festive season.

More and more people are taking on credit, that they’ll struggle to pay back and getting themselves stuck in a vicious circle. I’m not judging! We’ve all had debt for a whole host of reasons – be it living beyond our means, keeping up with the Joneses or worse – just to survive.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. But perhaps it’s time we stopped being sucked in by the clever adverts and buy now pay later schemes and think about how our choices now affect our financial health further down the line.

The Real Cost of Christmas Campaign

This week StepChange launched their ‘Real Cost of Christmas Campaign’ to highlight the pressures families in the UK are facing. You can follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #ChristmasDebt from now right up until Christmas Eve. As part of that, I thought I’d share with you some quick tips on how to save money this Christmas.

You might also enjoy this recent post I shared – How to Save Money this Christmas.

If you’re worried about your debts, you can reach out to StepChange for free expert advice. If you would like to speak to them regarding your financial situation, double check you are on the correct website which is here – www.stepchange.org (Unfortunately there are a number of clone websites using altered versions of their name!).

5 Quick Tips to Save Money this Christmas

Budget

My go to tip for almost any situation is budget – sit down and go through your numbers and work out how much you need and how much you can actually afford. You can then begin to look at ways to reduce costs and make extra money to help make up the shortfall.

Buy What You Need

We all overindulge at Christmas for sure, but before you go all out on your Christmas food and drink shop, have a think about what you actually need and will consume.

Most of us will order a whole turkey to feed a family of 4 only to find ourselves eating it well into the new year. Consider buying a turkey crown or another joint of meat and take note of the serving size on the packaging.

Do you really need to buy champagne (honestly, who even likes the stuff?) or could you substitute your bubbles for a cheap Cava instead?

Eco Friendly Swaps & Handmade

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in this area because quite frankly, I know I have a long way to go. However, this year I’ll be using brown paper to wrap my presents – I buy it in bulk to post parcels on ebay anyway, it’s recyclable and it can look quite sophisticated tied with some twine or ribbon (which you can save for next year). Or, you can get the kids involved and get them to decorate the paper (or scribble all over it like my 2 year old!).

Instead of spending a fortune on decorations – try your hand at some crafts. Salt dough is a cheap and easy way to make decorations and a day out at your local park is a great place to forage festive freebies such as pinecones which you can make into garlands or add to the tree.

Take Advantage of Cashback

If you’re buying gifts online make sure you’re signed up to a cashback website like TopCashback or Quidco to earn some money back on your spends.

It’s also worth downloading apps like Shopmium and CheckoutSmart as these often have great cashback offers on food and drink and even freebies. You can quite often grab a free bottle of beer or cider on there! Maximise the offers by getting your partner to download the apps and sign up too.

Secret Santa

If you have a lot of family members to buy for, why not suggest a Secret Santa? You can set a budget and arrange a day to all get together and exchange presents. This is a great idea because not only is it fun, but you only have to buy one present instead of however many!

You could also suggest that the adults in the family don’t buy for each other and you’ll just buy the kids presents. This can ease the pressure massively!

Ask for Help

Finally, if you are really struggling, ask for help. It is out there. The StepChange Debt Charity is an incredible facility available to provide free and expert advice to those in financial hardship.

Follow StepChange on social media:

Twitter – @StepChange
Facebook – StepChange Debt Charity
Instagram – Money Aware StepChange

*StepChange reached out to me regarding this campaign but this post is not sponsored and I have not been compensated for it.

real cost of christmas

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