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We need to talk about Christmas

We all know Christmas can be expensive. Last year the average UK family budgeted £350 for their Christmas food, presents and decorations. Yet nearly two-thirds of us spent up to £250 over our festive budget.

Here is some information from Money Helper

Money Helper can help

The pandemic and now the cost of living crisis have hit our finances hard. Many more people are claiming benefits, such as Universal Credit, for the very first time and we’re all worried what the next few months will bring.

This year the cost of living crisis is making us all think about what we really need to spend this Christmas. That’s why, more than ever, we need to talk to our friends and family about the cost of Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever else you’re celebrating.


Talk to your friends and family

You might feel stressed about the idea of having a difficult conversation about money, and you may forget the important things you wanted to bring up. So follow our tips onHow to have a conversation about money. You’ll feel better when you’ve had the conversation.

Pressure to please loved ones and to give children the perfect Christmas tops the list of reasons people overspend during the festive season. When you’ve worked out how much you can afford to spend on presents, talk to the people you plan to give gifts to about how much you plan to spend and stick to it.

Here are some tips:

  • If money is tight, it might be worth agreeing with your friends and family ahead of time not to exchange gifts at all. This year especially, loved ones are likely to understand and would rather exchange cards than see you struggle financially.
  • Make a plan to just buy gifts for the children this year rather than buying something for everyone. You may find that your friends and family are relieved that you’ve bought the subject up and can now save a little money themselves.
  • Agree to spend time together rather than spending money. Children love to be together with friends and family and are much more likely to remember fun times than presents. A Christmassy walk to the park with homemade hot chocolate from a flask and biscuits can be a lovely memory. Decorating some shop bought biscuits with icing and sprinkles or making some decorations out of paper are great fun for children and don’t cost much to do.

It might help to remember that many people will be struggling this Christmas. If you’re spending too much on presents for loved ones, they might feel the pressure to spend the same amount on you, even if they can’t afford to.

Shop Preloved 

Small children don’t need all the latest toys in boxes. There are lots of ways you can save on toys and games.

You could:

  • Look at local Facebook groups and see if some of the toys your child would like are available. Lots of people make space for new toys by offering ones their child has outgrown. They are often offered very cheaply or even free.
  •  Ask your friends if there are any toys that their children have outgrown this year and see if there’s any you are ready to part with. Maybe plan a toy swap so everyone gets new toys without the expense. It’s a great way to minimise extra plastic and save the environment too.
  • Look in your local charity shop. You can find some great toys and books at really reduced prices.


Christmas Dinner and food

Money Helpers survey of 5,225 members of the general public in the UK about their money secrets, nearly a third told them they were more worried than they were last year about being able to afford the Christmas they want. If you are hosting dinner then consider how many people will be coming over and how much you will need to spend on food and drink. Here are some tips:

  • Make a list of exactly what you need. It can be really tempting when the Christmas music is playing to pop extras that you don’t need into your basket. Stay strong!
  • Look out for deals. All the big supermarkets are competing for out money this Christmas. Shopping around for buy one get one free and other offers can make a huge difference to your total bill.
  • Look at the lower cost supermarkets. Aldi and Lidl often come top of the taste tests for Christmas food and they can be as much as half the price.
  • You could ask your guests to bring a dish, such as pudding or mince pies, a bottle of wine or even the crackers! This helps spread the cost and often people like to bring something to the host.
  • Tap into everyone’s talents. If auntie Sara makes the best mince pies, cousin Ali makes the best stuffing or Nanny Margaret makes a cracking Christmas cake ask them to bring it along. Makers and bakers are always really happy to bring their party piece along for everyone to share.
  • You could even have an international Christmas and ask everyone to bring a dish from their home country or culture for everyone to share.


Don’t use debt to tide you over

A quarter of people in the UK are worried about going into debt this Christmas. It might seem easy now to pay for presents on your credit card or even take out a short-term loan. But paying back the debt could be expensive, and if you miss payments there’ll be a negative impact on your credit report – which could affect your future ability to get any type of debt at all. If you can, try and set aside a small amount of money each month, just for your Christmas spending. Read our tips to saving for Christmas.  If you’re struggling with money, you can talk to someone today, for free and in confidence, online or by phone. Money Helper have specially trained advisers who can help you start sorting out your financial problems.

Use Money Helpers free guide to help you decide whether you should be borrowing money.


Don’t be afraid to share your worries

One of the effects of the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis has been to make it normal to feel, on occasion, that everything is too much. But if you’re often feeling low it could be a sign of poor mental wellbeing. Feeling down can make it tough to manage money. And worrying about it can make you feel even worse. If you can, take five minutes to read our guide Money problems and your mental wellbeing. If your worries are related to your financial independence this might be a sign of financial abuse. There’s support for you. Read more in our guide Protecting yourself against financial abuse.

Need someone to talk to about your finances?

If you’re struggling with money, you can talk to a specialist today, online or by phone, who will be able to help you start sorting out your financial problems.

Money Manager Tool for Universal Credit

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