Sunday, 1 November 2015

Managing Christmas Debt

It’s the 1st of November today so we are full steam ahead for Christmas.  Sadly though it’s a time many will feel a real financial strain as they try and meet the costs associated with the festive period, debts that may continue well into the next year.  I love Christmas so it is hard not get carried away, to want your children to be greeted with a big bundle of presents on Christmas morning, but if it means its going to put a real strain on your finances then its time to think about what you could do in advance to manage that more effectively.

I think its very hard because children have such unrealistic expectations, my two would often say we can ask for anything as Father Christmas makes it so it does not cost you anything mum and dad… so the likes of quad bikes, ipads and mobile phones would quickly be added to the ever growing list!  To counter this we have explained that Father Christmas has a limited budget as he has so many children to provide presents for, anything extra (and expensive!) children have requested parents need to send money for his materials and as mum and dad have a limited budget you might not get everything on your lists.  It’s a difficult time because you want children continuing to believe in the magic of Christmas but you also need to bring in some of the reality that money is not unlimited, often sacrifices have to be made, and we really cannot have everything we want.

This article about preparing your finances for Christmas was a useful read.  Starting to save as early as possible will help you cope when you begin ordering presents, decorations and food in earnest, saving just £3 a day would mean £1,095 by the end of the year (a target I might set myself for 2016!).  Some people use Christmas clubs but I must admit I am weary as they do not get regulated the same as banks and have in the past folded leaving people without their much needed vouchers or gift cards come Christmas, I prefer to avoid risk wherever possible.

When you go shopping and see everything looking lovely on the shelves it can be tempting to start piling up the trolley with no thoughts to how much your actually spending, with an overdraft in place its easy for it to get out of control because you have that to fall back on.  Instead it might be helpful to take a prepaid card shopping with you like so you are limited to only spending how much money you have loaded onto it.  Hopefully then you might be more reflective about each purchase you make and at the very least you can only spend what’s on the card, so no worries about getting back out of the overdraft in 2016.

According to the Money Advice Service “(almost) half of consumers (46%) plan to pay for Christmas by using credit cards, store cards and overdrafts” let’s try and change this next year, please start saving earlier and fingers crossed less of us will start the New Year with that unfortunate debt hanging over us.

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