(PRWEB UK) 27 November 2012
The countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun – but with the prospect of spending a small fortune on all of those festive necessities, there is very little to be cheerful about for some.
According to research, a third of families were forced deeper into existing debt to fund last Christmas, with financial forecasts suggesting that just as many, if not more, could also be stretching their finances to breaking point to do the same in 2012**.
If the thought of buying all of those presents and spending a fortune on mountains of food and drink is bringing you dread instead of joy, it might be time to start considering financial help so that you too can enjoy your Christmas instead of spending it thinking about January’s bank balance.
Christmas is a time of giving, and despite the mantra ‘it’s the thought that counts’, many of us still feel the pressure to splash out on lavish gifts subsequently landing ourselves in a pile of debt that we will be expected to face in the New Year.
If you find yourself falling into the Christmas debt trap year upon year then you are certainly not alone. According to figures collected by Life Coach Directory – an online directory listing professional coaches – many of us seem unable to break this habit of a lifetime:
- 36% of survey respondents said they used their credit cards to make purchases at Christmas.
- 45% of respondents said they felt pressured into buying gifts.
- 50% of respondents set themselves a Christmas budget for presents, food, drink and eating out. The remaining 50% did not budget.
- Of the 50% who did not budget, 82% felt that having one would help to prevent overspending.
- Of the 50% who had a budget, 91% said it helped them to keep their finances in check.
The good news however, is that you do not have to compromise your fun or become a scrooge in order to keep your pennies safe. Nottingham based Accredited Life and Executive Coach Elizabeth Juffs has been coaching successfully since 2004 and has developed a simple four step guide to help individuals discover how they can have a wonderful but affordable Christmas this year:
Step one: Plan a budget
Elizabeth recommends that individuals first set themselves a budget of how much they are able to spend overall for Christmas before dividing that budget between all of the things they know they want to buy. For example: presents, food, decorations and cards.
The next step is to spilt this budget further still so that each item is given its own budget. For example: if there are 20 presents to buy and you have £200 to spend, that is a maximum of £10 per present.
Step two: Think less expensive
Whilst in an ideal world we would all love to give our children exactly what they want, don’t feel pressured to ‘keep up with the Jones’. Finding presents on a budget or making your own can be more fun and they could even be more gratefully received.
Here are some handy tips to reduce your spending:
- Buy one present, pack of cards, decoration or item of non-perishable food each week leading up to Christmas to ease the financial burden.
- Give gifts that cost you talent and time but not money. For example the promise to cook a lovely meal for a friend or the offer of a foot massage.
- Set an agreed budget with your family e.g. £5 per present and enjoy hunting around for fun and thoughtful gifts to exchange.
Step three: Think ethical
Nowadays we seem to spend huge amounts on presents at Christmas, but Elizabeth suggests that we should consider using our money to better and more ethical effect. Buy gifts on behalf of family and friends that will improve the lives of those less well off. For example, Oxfam has a range of gifts for sending to the Third World starting at around £5 for anything from schoolbooks to goats.
Step four: Bonus tips
- Unless you pay off your credit card balance at the end of each month then use cash to pay for your purchases. Being able to see what you have spent will mean there won’t be any nasty surprises come the New Year.
- Try to pick up some discounted items for next year in the sales – just try not to forget that they are sitting at the back of the cupboard when next December roles around.
- Start saving a small amount each month from January and you will have a substantial amount by next Christmas. Putting aside just £20 per month could really ease the financial burden when it comes to buying presents next year.
Whilst careful planning and budgeting could lead to a much happier and more relaxed Christmas for many – those who already find themselves in considerable debt should seek further support. Financial coaching will provide you with the opportunity to understand how you got into your current situation to ensure the same pattern does not repeat itself.
Individuals who are dreading the expense of Christmas and would like financial help and sound advice about and how to budget this yuletide and beyond may benefit from visiting Life Coach Directory.
With a countrywide directory of professional coaches and an entire fact-sheet dedicated to information about financial coaching including tips on how to budget, this could be the first step towards a stress free, debt free Christmas. After all, Rudolph’s nose may be red, but your accounts don’t have to be!
For press enquiries only: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Step Change Debt Charity – A national debt advice charity.
- Debt Advice Foundation – A registered national debt advice and education charity.
*Based on a survey carried out on Life Coach Directory between October and November 2012.
**Phillips, Tricia (2012) Escape the Claus of debt: The cost of Christmas is leaving us not so merry. Available: http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/personal-finance/how-to-avoid-getting-into-debt-this-christmas-1319379