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Christmas on credit – blown out finances or under control?

Party pooper

That’s Christmas done and dusted for another year. Well, until the credit card bill lands on the doormat (or inbox). Our new research found half the nation paid for Christmas on credit.

With presents, cards, food, drink and travel to account for, Christmas isn’t cheap. And while some do their best to scrimp and save throughout of the year, it’s de rigueur we splurge at Christmas.

Sadly for many, the financial hangover may last longer than the festive one. If you paid for Christmas via a credit card, overdraft, store card or payday loan, you’re not alone as 46% of our survey participants were in a similar position.

Sadly more than a third of us dipped into savings to mark the day, taking an average of £380 to keep the finances ticking over during the festive season.

Splashing out at Christmas

YouGov stats released earlier this year suggest the average UK household spent a whopping £835 on gifts, cards, food and drink this Christmas, slightly less than a last-minute, all-inclusive seven nights in Turkey for a family of four. When you look at it like that, I find myself wondering if we should put ourselves into debt for just one day?

Our research suggests that more than half of us spent less on Christmas this year than last year, and 43% of us significantly cut back on spending. So how did you cut back?

I’ve tried to spread the cost a little – I bought this year’s Christmas cards in the sales last year – it’s not as if they go out of fashion, and they were less than half the price. But they’re just a small proportion of the overall Christmas spend.

Tis the season to spend

As you would expect, gifts are the biggest slice of the pie, but food and drink are a significant second. And with the unfortunate weather we’ve had this year, getting the traditional Christmas dinner on our tables has also cost us more.

Half of those we surveyed told us they didn’t buy as much food this year and 45% bought cheaper alternatives. The results of our Christmas Best Buys certainly show you don’t have to spend excessively to get the tastiest treats.

The good news is, no one thought the celebrations would suffer as a result of cut backs as many made good use of what they could afford. So did you cut back on spending this Christmas? Or is Christmas your big blowout with all the trimmings?


A curious conclusion.
I did a lot of on-line purchases for Christmas, using a credit card, and as usual buy food (and drink) the same way. But I always pay my credit card off in full, so it is convenience, not debt. I wonder how many others do that?
Dipped into savings? Well. Christmas, like holidays, is a higher spending time, so saving up during the year for both, and then spending by “dipping into savings” may not be quite what was meant?
We like Christmas – a bit of a feast and gifts for the family gives us a lot of pleasure, but we budget for it. 7 nights in Turkey – we had that also- well, a whole week of turkey meals; glad it’s only once a year.

Keep the turkey coming, I love a turkey dinner any time of year. It’s usually one of the “cheeper” options when it comes to poultry. The big challenge is to buy exactly what’s necessary for a good Christmas and be able to look back afterwards and say “I didn’t throw anything away.” ‘Quite pleased this year apart from a few cooked sprouts that got ‘lost’ in the fridge. It’s possible to anticipate Christmas by buying presents when they hit the eye. Thus, holidays are a good time to look around, and even the January sales might suggest a gift or two to go in the cupboard.
Christmas is always going to be an unwelcome burden on the budget for some and it’s not good financial training for children to expect their parents to overspend, nor should such parents feel emotionally bound to spend more than they should. Of course, they do, and that’s not easy to live with either. That, then, leads to the debate about the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. I think there’s a balance to be struck, somewhere in the middle, especially if it unites the family in this season of ‘good will’.

So, eaten the pudding; bean on crumb for January, but no debt. Happy New Year!!