Sunday, 20 November 2016 18:15

Every Penny Counts To Avoid a Debt Hangover This Christmas

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas, as if anyone needed reminding now that the chilly and dark nights have rolled in, not forgetting the Christmas decorations filling the aisles since September. It’s now official, with the onslaught in recent days of the Christmas advert battle 2016, from an animated all-singing extravaganza to bouncing dogs. Christmas is coming, meaning a costly month for your finances to fund presents under the tree and all the trimmings for Christmas dinner.

It can be all too easy to get carried away with the merriment and tills across the country ringing out as the big day draws closer, but just how much will you spend this year, will you rein in your spending or be among the third of people using some kind of borrowing to pay for the festive celebrations?

Reports released this week paint a less than cheerful picture of the state of our finances for this year’s festivities and the gloom ahead. According to Barclaycard and, people have started to worry about their finances, predicting frugal times ahead as those confident in their household finances dropped dramatically from 70 per cent in September to 55 per cent in October. Add to that the forecast from The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development that wages in real terms are likely to fall next year.

Santa and his elves will have to work much harder this year to plump out those stockings to make up for the 37 per cent of people who say they plan to spend less on Christmas this year. To add to the bleakness, 38 per cent say they will stick to their budget this year, compared to 18 per cent in 2015, and just 2.4% say they will overspend by a lot, compared to a staggering 29 per cent the previous year.

With more than six million Britons falling behind on their finances in January this year as excessive festive season spending caught up with them, whether you’re looking for stocking fillers or more substantial gifts, here are a few pointers to ensure you avoid a debt hangover this time around.

With the typical family Christmas costing £650, every penny counts. So, rather than avoiding your bank balance, throw caution to the wind this year and make a Christmas budget. Withdraw small amounts each week so you have physical cash when you go out shopping, rather than spending more unknowingly when it’s unseen in your bank account. If it looks as though you could end up in the red, make sure you have an agreed overdraft in place and that you stay within the limit, if not it could cost you up to £100 a month for an unarranged overdraft, plus other fees on top. Ouch…

We’re all looking for ways to beat the squeeze, so rather than cancel Christmas put a limit on what you’ll spend on presents, and shop smart. Don’t be lazy and go for the first price you see, shop around for the best deals, both online and offline, comparing prices and look for discount codes. Think ‘affordability’ first and foremost, especially when it comes to the big Christmas food shop. Don’t turn your nose up at discount supermarkets and whilst it’s a traditional part of Christmas ask yourself, do you really need that ‘large’ Turkey when a small one will do the job? 

As much as we hate to say the obvious, don’t leave it until the last minute as the likelihood of your shopping being more expensive is far greater. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get caught up in spending at Christmas, but remember, it’s just one day that you can make much easier on your bank balance by making your money go further!