/ Food & Drink, Money, Shopping

How are you paying for Christmas this year?

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?


I’d question that the majority of the £800 is spent on food and drink. We feed well at Christmas with a large gathering but spend nothing like that sort of money. With a large family presents were (are) the biggest item, including Christmas stockings (a lot of fun for us). But we spend within a budget. Each of us has to be responsible for our finances.

Holidays are a similar financial situation to Christmas. Some regard an annual break as an excuse to spend far too much on an exotic trip. But if the rest of the year is spent more frugally to compensate then where’s the harm?

As far as loan sharks go, Wonga is a legalised example. They advertise on tv in a way that suggests they are your financial friend. With interest base rate at 1/4 %, and proper loans available at 10%, even a 15% loan seems expensive. A 150% interest loan seems just an unbelievable thought. But friendly Wonga charges 100 times the expensive loan – 1500%. How can such a ludicrous situation be allowed to continue. What have Which? done to get the government to stop such extortion?

Happy Christmas.


I couldn’t locate the figures quoted on the Money Advice website but even so the only survey I saw used a depressingly small sample size. Given the inaccuracy seen in so many surveys, I think it’s important to quote actual figures, not percentages, since the latter can be highly misleading.

In terms of managing Xmas spending I’m with Malcolm on this, but using credit to manage planned expenditure is something Which? promoted heavily in the 1990s and, to be honest, seems a valid way of dealing with periods of significant expenditure.

I think it’s also important to make the point that we don’t know for sure what proportions were spent on food as opposed to drink, or what proportion was spent on food and drink that comprised presents.

Finally, I think it’s worth making the point that celebrating the winter solstice in the way that’s become traditional for us in the UK is an important aspect of our lives. What can be more relaxing than meeting up with long-lost relatives, preparing dinner for 16 or so friends and family, all meeting round the dinner table to joke about how the turkey’s been cooked, or to make ribald asides about the parsnips; and then that golden time afterwards, gently massaging the grease from the dishes, laughing about picking up the broken crystal where Uncle Hans dropped the Napoleon brandy bottle on the tray, restoring the tree to the upright position after the little scamps have pulled it over, checking the defibrillator is fully charged, guiding Uncle Alb to the toilet because we don’t want a mistake like we had last year, do we? These are memories we’ll take to our graves…

Merry Xmas…


The trouble at all times of the year not just Christmas is credit is to freely available to anyone it is so easy to get credit on anything anywhere. Credit cards can be useful but encourage you to spend when you do not know if you will have the money ever to repay your debt.


I was shocked by the reported average spend level. It just shows how hard the austerity regime is biting. My rule is never to use extended payment facilities for consumables and wearables, only for things that will outlast the debt and that in moderation.

I like the sound of Ian’s Christmas. Our families are a bit like that. Sometimes they get on and sometimes they don’t, but there’s always an embarrassing moment to remember for future occasions. The secret of success is to make sure that everyone has at least one musical instrument and that the batteries have been removed from the TV remotes. We used to think five toilets were more than enough.




Christmas=xmas = commercialism any religious connection being quickly “phased out ” by the media (not PC ) ,notice lack of religious carols ,music on all the media( except occasional Classic FM ), advent calendars with “Father Xmas ” ,silly faces etc . Why not be honest ? In a few years it will be -have a soulless debt induced “merry ” buying spree , ho ! ho ! ho ! And then I woke up —and it was worse .


I wish I could top your glass up, Duncan: it always seems to be half-empty. Have a great time.


John I live in the world of reality ,even at Christmas-aka- xmas . I have seen what governments do behind the scenes including this one and its not a pretty sight. My glass will never be full until there is peace on earth for real and no more invasions of other countries to prop up a regime. No more war industry but real help for the poor ,not platitudes , a more even society , no homelessness , starvation etc and I mean this country and most of all no more lies ,this will never happen here but I keep fighting for it even at this time of the year.