The Christmas season is known to come with its own special hefty price tag, so how do we cope with the cost of Christmas? *Warning – not a lot of Christmas cheer can be found here*.
In our recent survey we found that around two fifths those surveyed expect to spend more than they’d planned to this Christmas.
A third said they’ll use their savings to pay if they go over budget. But nearly a fifth of us expect our extravagant Christmas spending to result in debt.
Where does all the money go?
Well being a part of the fifth who dip into the red, I’ve picked up a few presents on my credit card – is that so wrong? I don’t think so, as long as I pay for them in the next couple of months. It takes the pressure off of my dwindling savings account.
But my spending is modest compared to new figures from the Money Advice Trust which suggest that the average family is expecting to spend more than £800 celebrating Christmas this year.
It surprised me to learn that the majority of that money is set be spent on food and drink, as well as cards and decorations – I’d always (incorrectly) assumed presents were the biggest financial outlay of the season.
Last month the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published findings on their investigation into the credit card industry. The FCA found that 60% of adults have at least one credit card.
So, in short, some of us are forking out for a Christmas we just can’t afford.
Things to look out for
And that’s not all; Trading Standards is warning that families whose budgets are stretched could be at risk from loan sharks if they’re refused credit elsewhere.
Loan sharks aren’t just the preserve of a Great British crime caper – they are a very real and dangerous threat, taking advantage of those on low incomes with little savings who struggle to obtain credit via other means.
If you know someone vulnerable to the advances of a loan shark there are a few signs to look out for. A loan shark might:
- offer little or no paperwork, such as a licence, credit agreement or record of payments
- refuse to give information, such as the interest rate or how much you still owe
- take items as security, such as passports, bank cards or driving licences
- increase the debt or add additional amounts to it without your permission
- not allow you to settle your debt
- get nasty – they may resort to intimidation, threats or violence.
And if you’re worried about a loan shark in your community – or have become a victim of a loan shark – you can call the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222.
So have you got your Christmas spending under wraps? Or will you be balancing out the festive spend over the coming year?