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Money worries ‘put Christmas at risk’ for up to five million Britons

  • One in 10 worry and feel stressed about money in the run up to Christmas
  • One third of Britons are putting Christmas presents on credit this year
  • National Debtline launches #FeelsLikeChristmas social media campaign to encourage people to seek free advice

Five million Britons suffer from money worries and stress in the run up to Christmas, and one in three adults are putting Christmas presents on credit this year, according to new research from National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust.

The research, based on a poll of more than 2,000 British adults conducted online by YouGov for National Debtline, suggests that around five million people ‘regularly worry’ and ‘feel stressed’ about money in the run up to Christmas, with three million experiencing a negative impact on their enjoyment of the holiday as a result.

The findings come as National Debtline launches its #FeelsLikeChristmas social media campaign to highlight the positive impact that seeking free debt advice can have in easing money worries at this time of year. 

Worry, stress and sleepless nights

The findings suggest that money worries are putting Christmas at risk for as many as five million people.

  • One in 10 Britons (10 percent) say they ‘regularly worry’ about money in the run up to Christmas, while the same proportion ‘feel stressed’ about how much they are spending – equivalent to an estimated five million people
  • Six percent say that money worries are having a negative impact on their enjoyment of Christmas – equivalent to an estimated three million people
  • Two percent of Britons say they even lose sleep as a result of Christmas money worries – equivalent to an estimated one million people

Turning to credit for Christmas costs

The findings also show that a large number of households are continuing to turn to credit to cover the cost of Christmas this year.

  • One in three Britons (33 percent) are borrowing to pay for Christmas costs this year, equivalent to an estimated 16.5 million people
  • More than one in five (22 percent) are putting Christmas food on credit, equivalent to an estimated 10.8 million people

Some budgeting, many not

The research also sheds light on different approaches to budgeting and managing money in the run up to Christmas.

  • Less than a third of Britons (31 percent) have a budget for their Christmas spending that they try to stick to
  • 10 percent say they ‘try not to think about’ money worries at this time of year
  • At the same time, more than a third (36 percent) feel ‘well prepared’ for Christmas costs and one in 10 (10 percent) expect Christmas to come in under budget

Advisers at National Debtline are expecting demand for debt advice to rise significantly in the New Year.  December is almost always the quietest month of the year at National Debtline, and January is almost always the busiest as households come to grips with extra borrowing over the holidays.

The charity says its research shows there are millions of people who could benefit from seeking advice to help relieve money worries at this time of year.  Three quarters of callers to National Debtline say they feel less stressed as a result of the advice they receive.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said:

“Money worries can have a huge impact on your life at any time – but the fact that they are putting Christmas at risk for up to five million people shows what an extremely difficulty time of year this can be.

“This is also, of course, a busy time of year – and it is easy to see why many people don’t want to deal with financial problems in December. 

“However, our research shows there are millions of people worrying about Christmas finances who could benefit from seeking advice now, to start to resolve their financial problems. Three quarters of callers to National Debtline tell us they feel less stressed as a result – and often that first step is the hardest to take.

“I would urge anyone suffering from worries about money or debt to seek free advice from National Debtline or another charity as soon as possible.  The sooner you seek advice, the quicker we can help you to start getting back on track, and remove some of the worry that can make this time of year difficult.”

National Debtline offers free, independent advice online via www.nationaldebtline.org and on 0808 808 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.

Five Christmas money tips from National Debtline

1) Set your festive budget

Setting a festive budget is probably the single most useful step you can take to manage your Christmas spending – but fewer than one in three of us do this. Make a list of who you need to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it.  Plan ahead when it comes to your other shopping too, for example on food, decorations, and visiting family and friends. 

2) Keep paying bills

Don’t forget you still need to pay your normal household bills in December, such as mortgage, rent, council tax, gas and electricity.  If you get paid earlier than usual in December, consider paying these bills straight away, so you know what is left is what you have to spend on your Christmas shopping.

3) Shop around for deals

There are lots of good deals around, even at Christmas. You could leave buying your presents until later in the month as sales often start early.  You could also consider using price comparison websites if you are buying a bigger gift.  Whatever you do, make sure you shop around and get the best price.

4) Resist the urge to borrow more

It can be extremely tempting to borrow money to pay for Christmas costs, but as always with borrowing, you have consider whether you can afford to pay it back.  If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and create a household budget to make sure you the repayments won’t leave you in difficulty.

5) Seek free advice

None of us really want to think about personal finances in the run up to Christmas, especially where debt problems are involved.  However if you are worried about money or debt, seek advice from a charity-run service like National Debtline as soon as possible.  The earlier you seek free advice, the sooner you can worry less about your money situation.

www.nationaldebtline.org

 

 
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