Three ways to spot financial strain over the festive period

Paula ClarkChristmas, Tips0 Comments

For some, Christmas has evolved into a month-long blow-out of fancy parties, dining out and far too many gifts. The pressure to put on a good show and overspend on new outfits, dinner with all the trimmings and wish-lists as wide as Santa’s waist is immense.

No wonder so many of us go hopelessly over-budget and inevitably see the magic of Christmas turn to abject misery as January rolls in and the bills pile up.

The reality is that, for many of us, Christmas is simply unaffordable. So how do you know if Christmas is becoming too expensive for you? We’ve identified three signs below.

You’re counting on your credit card

You’re skating on thin ice, financially, if you find yourself putting the cost of Christmas on your credit card. Many people who are otherwise excellent at using these cards carefully, find their better judgment impaired when it comes to buying gifts. Buying something extravagant for their gran, for example, doesn’t seem as bad as it might if the gift was for themselves.

But our best intentions still accrue bills. And being unable to pay your credit card off at the end of the month can cost even more in the long run thanks to high interest and penalty charges.

Our loved ones might enjoy being spoilt, but not at the expense of seeing you spiral into debt. Even children will understand they can’t get everything they want. Focus instead on smaller presents and homemade treats. It really is the thought that counts, not the cost. If you can’t buy a gift outright, it probably means you shouldn’t be buying it at all.

You have existing money difficulties

If you’re already in debt, or struggling to cover normal monthly outgoings, don’t make the problem worse by going on a seasonal spending spree. Putting money towards a securer financial footing instead will bring more lasting benefit to your family than a few over-priced toys under the tree.

Money concerns are wretched at the best of times. At Christmas, however, we appreciate that they can feel even worse. Give yourself the gift of an easier mind by chatting to a debt advisor or sitting down with loved ones to work out where you can all make savings to see you through the year ahead.

And remember that being frugal doesn’t have to mean ‘no fun’. There are plenty of festive activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg, from winter walks through a woodland park to finding a carol service in your local area where you can go along and sing your heart out.

You’re saving for something

Even if your bank balances are in the black and your credit card was cut up years ago, a lavish Christmas is likely to be one you regret if the money would’ve been better stowed elsewhere. Big financial goals, whether an upcoming wedding or saving for your first house, trump splurging on seasonal fripperies. Whatever pressure you impose on yourself or feel from close friends and relatives, don’t compromise your long-term financial goals by going all-out over the holidays.

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