Post-Christmas financial struggles
This makes for sobering reading: one in four people who celebrate Christmas struggle to afford it. According to StepChange Debt Charity, even more people than last year will turn to borrowing to fund the festive season.
We’ve all contributed to an unrealistic ideal of excess, and people are breaking the bank to achieve it. Less than half (45%) of those surveyed by StepChange say they will be able to afford their festive spending this year.
Delving deeper into the issues around why many felt they had to borrow money, 25% said it was due to reduced household income, 16% said the loss of the Universal Credit uplift and 12% as a result of the end of Covid support measures such as furlough.
Many of us might be paid earlier than usual in December due to bank holidays, but then face having to make that money last longer during a period we feel we need to spend to have a good time.
The pressure to provide a day (or more) of unbridled joy and cheer, particularly for those who have been struggling to make ends meet, can result in some serious difficulties after the festive period.
Where can I turn to if I’m struggling financially?
There is plenty of advice about preventative measure you can take to help you plan ahead for Christmas and manage your spending. Check out Citizens Advice’s ten top tips to avoid a Christmas debt hangover and start saving for Christmas 2022.
If you are struggling after Christmas, don’t face it alone. Talk to someone – whether a trusted friend or family member, or seek help from services such as Citizens Advice, Money Advice, or National Debtline. All of them can help you find ways to manage and pay off your debt, and show you ways to achieve a joyful Christmas within your means.
You can also visit Money Helper, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, to find free debt advice service near you.
Remember your mental health too
Financial stresses and mental health can combine to create a vicious cycle according to mental health charity, Mind. This can be exacerbated at Christmas due to the extra costs associated with it.
It can be harder to find financial and mental health support services over Christmas as many reduce their hours or working days to give their employees time off, but there are still places where you can find help if you need it. As well as debt helplines, who can give you impartial and confidential advice, you can also turn to the Samaritans and Give us a Shout if you need someone to talk to.
Even those of us who can afford our Christmas expenses need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask if we really need to be spending so much to enjoy this time of year; it shouldn’t be a holiday of material gain, but one of coming together, community, and cheer.
If you are facing money problems before or after Christmas, it is vital you talk to someone. It can be the first step on your road to recovery, and a problem shared is a problem halved.