Guest blog post from National Debtline, the free debt advice service run by the Money Advice Trust.
Research carried out by National Debtline has revealed that one in four people feel under pressure to spend more than they originally planned this Christmas.
Promotions such as Black Friday, as well as the expectations of children, partners and other relatives are cited as common factors contributing to overspending.
The survey also revealed an estimated 17.3 million people will be borrowing money to pay for Christmas presents this year.
It’s not just presents that are causing people to turn to borrow to cover the costs– nearly a quarter of people will be turning to credit to pay for Christmas food, equating to an estimated 11.5 million people – up by more than a million on last Christmas.
Credit is on the increase
Figures from the Bank of England have shown a significant increase in consumer credit, the speed of which has been described as ”at a rate of knots” by the Bank’s chief economist Andy Haldane.
As people resort to overdrafts and credit cards to cover the cost of Christmas, this all leads to added financial strain come January, as this extra spending must be paid off alongside regular household bills. Last year calls to National Debtline increased by 61% after the festive period, and we expect that figure to go up again come January 2016.
Ways for spending less and #MakingChristmasCount
The research also revealed that one in five of those surveyed were looking at and considering ways of reducing their costs this Christmas, including just buying for children, giving homemade presents, or contributing food and drink for the Christmas table.
To help raise awareness of the pressures people face to spend more than they may be able to afford, and inspire those looking to spend less, National Debtline is highlighting ideas for #MakingChristmasCount.
Members of staff across the organisation have been sharing their ideas for thoughtful gifts that are either low cost or free, in a series of videos released every day throughout December up until Christmas Eve. Anyone can share their own ideas using #MakingChristmasCount.
All the videos can be viewed on the National Debtline website, along with 12 tips for staying on top of finances over Christmas.
To help manage the costs and payments, National Debtline’s online budget tool can calculate the amount of money available for paying off bills, taking into account a households income and expenditure.
Help is available
If you are struggling with your finances now, in January, or at any point throughout the year, you can get free advice from bodies such as National Debtline, Citizens Advice Bureau and the StepChange Debt Charity.
National Debtline offers free advice and resources to help you deal with your debts. You can speak to our advisers over the phone, through the website and via webchat.