Christmas may be the most magical time of the year for some, but for others it can be incredibly stressful. The opening of the advent calendar can herald the start of a truly difficult few weeks, particularly for those who may be struggling to cover the bills, while some may not be able to celebrate Christmas at all.
Research from Debt Advisory Centre found that 19% of respondents can't celebrate fully this year because of the cost, while 32% admit that they dread the festive season because they can't afford it. This is an even stronger sentiment among those aged 25-34, the age group most likely to have started setting up their own household, with 46% admitting that they dreaded the expense and 31% saying they won't really be celebrating as a result. In comparison, just 13% of over-55s are in the same position.
The rising cost of Christmas
When you consider the cost of Christmas, it's no real wonder that so many are struggling. The cost of gifts can quickly add up, but that's just the beginning – add in the cost of Christmas dinner and travelling to celebrate with friends and family, not to mention all those Christmas nights out, and the bill can get far too big. This perhaps explains why 48% thought they wouldn't be able to cover the expenses out of their earnings, with many dipping into their savings (36%) or using credit (13%) to help cover the cost. Given that 10% are still paying off debt from last year's festivities, this is a particularly worrying sum.
Ian Williams, spokesman for DAC, commented: "Christmas is an expensive time of year for many of us, so if finances are already tight, it's no wonder that some people dread the season.
"It's dispiriting to hear that one in five Brits surveyed think they won't get to celebrate much because they simply can't afford to. However, cutting back on celebrations may be a more sensible decision in the long-run than using credit to cover the cost. If household finances are already stretched, it could make repaying this borrowing difficult – which may explain why one in 10 are still repaying last year's Christmas credit."
Have a frugal, but festive, Christmas
So, just what can you do? Making sensible cutbacks could be the way forwards. Additional research from energyhelpline.com found that 32% are planning to cut back on luxury food and drink this year, and as long as you're still getting a great Christmas dinner, there's no reason why you can't substitute 'luxury' for more affordable versions.
Hopefully you won't need to resort to not having a Christmas tree – one in five of those on low incomes said they can't afford to buy one – but perhaps being careful with your electricity use could be a solution. Around 29% of those earning less than £25,000 will only put up a small number of Christmas lights this year because of the cost, but as long as they still sparkle, you can still have a magical Christmas.
Setting a budget should of course be at the top of the agenda, perhaps putting a limit on how much you'll spend on gifts for each recipient, and if you're going out for those Christmas parties, be on the lookout for any vouchers or discount codes you can get your hands on to keep costs to a minimum. The same applies if you're shopping for the Christmas dinner – a few discounts here and there could make a world of difference.
So, shop smart, be sensible and make your money go as far as possible, and hopefully you won't have a blue Christmas.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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