Christmas debt is a serious problem in the UK. A third of people in Britain borrow money each year to buy Christmas presents. This is nearly 17 million people. 2.3 million people will miss a regular payment of rent, electricity or other vital service in order to pay for Christmas.
Debt problems are made worse near Christmas thanks to unyielding pressure to buy from all corners. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some options to help make sure your Christmas isn’t spoiled by debt.
1 Prepare in advance
If you want to spend money on presents, try not to spend it all in one or two months. Plan throughout the year and save what you can, when you can. It’s easier to put a few pounds aside each month to spend in December than have a huge outlay one month that sends you into debt. Perhaps set up a dedicated bank account purely for Christmas. You’ll be surprised how much a few pounds each month builds.
2 Make, don’t buy
People will very often appreciate a homemade Christmas gift much more than a generic shop-bought present. The problem is when people hear “homemade”, they think cheap and tacky, but it doesn’t have to be! If you usually buy someone expensive flavoured gin, why not get creative and infuse your own flavour?
Hamper baskets are a popular (and expensive) gift, so why not make your own hamper for a fraction of the cost? That way, you can include only the things you know the person on the receiving end will like, reducing waste. They don’t even have to be just food – who wouldn’t like a homemade toy hamper with things like this i-spy game in it?
Before you spend a penny, know exactly how much you have to spend, and don’t go over this. It can be hard, especially if you see something you know a friend would love. But if you can keep to your spending limits, you can help make sure you won’t fall into debt. Try using a budget calculator like this from Citizens Advice Scotland.
4 Shop smart
If you do want to buy presents, be smart when you shop. Don’t buy the first thing you see. Shop around. Is it cheaper online? Do other shops sell the item for less? You can also look in charity shops. Many items you’ll find here are in pristine, unopened packaging as they were duplicates or bought in error. Not only can you save a bundle, you’re helping a charity too.
Also keep in mind the tricks that shops often use to get you to part with your cash. “Buy now pay later” is a very tempting offer, but it’s only putting off the inevitable. Sometimes, you’ll even pay more with interest added. Don’t get sucked into payment schemes you can’t afford to keep up.
5 Speak to us
Finally, if you are feeling worried about debt, come and speak to us as soon as you can. We are totally judgement-free, and are here to help you out. The longer you put off facing up to debt problems, the worse they will get.
Our East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau debt advice is totally free, and we can help you put in place solutions to let you get back to living your life. So don’t let Christmas debt take over your life – get in touch with us today and let’s start talking.