The 12 (Debt Free) Days of Christmas

Author: Marie Drozdziak

Picture: Quince Media, Pixabay

The 12 (Debt Free) Days of Christmas

The run up to Christmas can lead to financial pressure and debt. Marie Drozdziak suggests effective ways to be debt-free in the build up to the most wonderful time of the year.

Even the most level–headed person can find themselves in a frenzy during the festive period.

Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with information and images about how to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas. 

According to the advertisers, the way to success is to spend, spend, spend. 

However, for some people, this means spending money they do not have. For many, this is where the spiral of debt starts.

A poll of more than 2,000 British adults conducted for the Money Advice Trust by YouGov found  that 34% of people have already borrowed, or plan to borrow, money to cover the cost of Christmas presents– a figure equating to an estimated 16.9 million people. 

76 % of these are borrowing on credit cards, bank overdrafts, catalogue credit and store cards. 

So how can we enjoy this festive season without getting into debt?  Here are my top 12 tips for staying debt free this Christmas:

1.    Christmas is about Christ (the clue is in the name!)  Before planning shopping trips, menus and presents, take some time to reflect on this passage:

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

2.    Set a budget based on your circumstances.

3.    Use cash, not cards.  Decide how much you want to spend on food, presents and decorations and divide money in to marked envelopes.

4.    Be honest and upfront about your financial situation.  Setting financial boundaries for our children equips them to manage their own money well in the future.

5.    For extended family and friends, switch from buying each person a present to setting up a Secret Santa.

6.    Avoid unnecessary trips to supermarkets and shopping centres. Even those with an iron will can find themselves dazzled by two for one and BOGOF deals.  Plan ahead and minimise your exposure to temptation.

7.    If you want to make a big purchase which exceeds your budget, ask family members to pool together and give your loved one a joint gift.

8.    Do not be afraid to ask for help.  If you are hosting Christmas this year, ask people to bring certain items of food and drink and make it a shared Christmas.

9.    Make some swaps. Switch expensive trips to the cinema for movie nights at home, a restaurant meal to your own pop up café, coffee shop visits for a flask  of hot chocolate and marshmallows by the fire.

10.  Make your own gifts.  Look online for thousands of thrifty and fabulous ideas.

11.  If you need a loan, consider setting up a Credit Union account.  It is a low cost, ethical way of borrowing money:

12. If you have slid into debt, do not suffer in silence. Contact Christians Against Poverty, for free, impartial, debt advice: See Martin Lewis’ “Christmas debt hangovertips” below:

These are my tips. I am sure you have your own ideas. Do not keep them to yourself; share them on the CCR Facebook page.

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