For most people, the Christmas period is the most wonderful time of year with many looking forward to the bright lights of the festive season and all the joy they bring.
However, there is no escaping the fact that magic and wonder of the festivities also comes with a price tag attached and for some, it is a cost they simply cannot afford.
As more and more people find themselves struggling to cover the cost of party nights, planning the all-important Christmas dinner and of course a Santa size list of gifts for the whole family, festive period debt is a real and serious concern for thousands.
It is hardly surprising that many people turn to credit cards and personal or payday loans to get through the busy Christmas period, with bills becoming January’s problem, but it is this attitude that can make the problem of festive debt much worse.
How can I avoid festive debt?
Amidst the Christmas celebrations, it can be all too easy to forget the impact that spending can have.
However, the reality is not considering spending in December can have a far deeper impact than just a festive hangover and the January blues.
By being prepared and sticking to a strict budget over the holidays you are in the best position to stop your bank balance being pushed to breaking point.
Here we shine a light on a few simple steps you can take to avoid falling into financial difficulty.
- Know your priorities: Ensure that all priority bills such as your mortgage, council tax, electricity and phone bills are paid before you begin any festive spending.
- Start early: Planning ahead and putting a little extra money by each month in the run-up to Christmas will give you a little wiggle-room when it comes to spending in December.
- Set a budget: Don’t get caught short for any December bills by taking note of all monthly expenses and deducting them from your income. You can then create a realistic budget and stick to it to avoid a shock bill at the end of the month.
- Keep track: Sticking to a strict budget may seem easier said than done at times but by keeping track of what you spend you’re more likely to keep spending on track. Record any festive spending and be sure to keep an eye on your bank balance to avoid any surprise interest or overdraft charges.
- Shop around: It may be a season of giving but that doesn’t mean buying Christmas presents needs to break the bank. Be sure to shop around when you begin your quest to find the perfect presents to ensure you get the best deal.
- Safety first: It’s also important to always buy from reputable outlets when shopping to offer greater consumer protection. Even if you’re struggling to find this season’s most sought-after gift for your child, don’t be tempted to buy through third parties to avoid inflated costs.
- Avoid unplanned overdrafts: If you do find yourself in need of extra money, don’t bank on an overdraft without speaking to your bank first. It is more expensive to find yourself in an unplanned overdraft rather than arranging one with your bank.
What if I find myself in festive debt?
Despite the best of intentions, sometimes there is no avoiding overspending during the Christmas period.
It can be all too easy to get caught up in the frivolity of the season and throw caution to the wind when it comes to budgets and spending.
If you find yourself in that situation it’s important not panic and bury your head in the sand. Thousands of people across the country find themselves in the same situation and pledge to make a fresh financial start in the new year.
Should you find yourself struggling with your finances following Christmas, you should speak to a qualified financial or debt advisor to discuss what options you have available. From debt consolidation loans to Trust Deeds, Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Debt Management Plans -to name just a few – there is a wealth of support available.
If you are in need of advice about your finances and festive spending, talk to TAD our resident debt expert for confidential and expert advice about what options are available to you.