Avoid debt at Christmas with our savvy spender guide
According to the Centre for Retail Research https://www.retailresearch.org/shopping-for-christmas.html the UK spent a whopping £79.7 Billion in the six weeks before Christmas 2018. What that figure doesn’t show is how much of that was in the form of credit, rather than hard cash.
The Money Advice Trust http://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/media/news/Pages/Warning-as-Britons-put-Christmas-on-credit.aspx estimates that a third of people in the UK are borrowing to pay for presents. More worryingly, one in five are taking on debt to pay for food. In the same YouGov poll, some of the 2,000 adults polled are skipping payments on regular bills to cope over the festive season.
So how can you have a money-wise Christmas without compromising on festive fun? Here are some practical steps you can take to keep festive spending under control. Think savvy spender instead of penny pincher -
Plan ahead when buying food and drinks. Spread your spending and start early, buying items as you see them and putting them away for the festive season. As long as you check the 'use by' dates some keen savings can be made. Willpower may be required so it's advisable to store them well out of reach and keep a note of what you've bought to avoid costly duplication.
Consider turning down invitations. It is lovely to have lots of social events to look forward to, but a good way to save money is to prioritise only those events you REALLY want to attend. Avoid inflated restaurant and bar prices by hosting a gathering at home and ask guests to bring a bottle or some snacks. If you are going out, leave the cards at home and pay by cash.
Plan your presents. Make a present list with a maximum amount you want to pay for each gift – and keep to the budget! Some families now have a “Secret Santa” tradition. This means nobody is left out, but you only have the expense of buying one present. Setting a budget of say £100 would allow for a decent gift, while keeping the budget under control.
Spend wisely. View the Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals with a level of scepticism. While you can pick up some great bargains from Santa’s List, stick to what you’ve already decided to buy. A bargain is only a bargain if it’s on your present list. Don’t be tempted to spend any savings you do make on more presents.
Tone down the treats. There is always a temptation to treat ourselves and the family to extras at Christmas. Avoid unplanned expenditure by making a list of low-cost family activities that won’t break the bank but will be big on fun - how about swimming, home-made pizzas and a movie-night?
Make sure that you have enough money in the bank to cover your regular direct debits and standing orders. If possible, have a bit extra tucked away for any unexpected expenses. A good way to keep track of spending is to download your bank’s app, which shows transactions and the account balance in real time.
Of course, you may already have over-spent this year – don’t worry. There are some positive steps that can help clear the debt decks in 2020, and make sure you’re debt-free for next Christmas.
• Face up to how much debt you’re carrying and map out the options to repay it. Share your worries with family; this can help relieve anxiety and they can often come up with solutions.
• Don’t ignore those brown envelopes, and read your bank statements – the ostrich approach really isn’t going to help.
• Set a budget you can live with. This is only possible if you know your income and add up all your costs. Make paying back debt a priority in 2020, even if this means cutting back on holidays or a new car.
• Keep focussed on your goal, which means resisting taking on more debt in the form of store cards or credit cards.
Debt doesn’t have to dominate your life. With the right professional advice and support there are always solutions.
Need help? Get in touch with our trusted TC Debt Solutions advisers on 0800 046 3328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org