Belfast Telegraph

Christmas on credit: One in three borrows to fund festive period, says charity

One in three Britons will be putting their Christmas on credit this year - equating to more than 16 million people across the country - research from a charity suggests.

About 33% of people surveyed for National Debtline, run by the Money Advice Trust (MAT), said they are borrowing to pay for their Christmas costs this year.

That would equate to 16.5 million people if the findings were projected across Britain, based on its adult population size.

More than one in five (22%) people surveyed said they are putting their Christmas food on credit, equivalent to an estimated 10.8 million people.

One in 10 people surveyed (10%) say they "regularly worry" about money in the run-up to Christmas, while the same proportion feel "stressed" about how much they are spending, equating to an estimated five million people across Britain.

One in 50 (2%) Britons lose sleep as a result of Christmas money worries, while a further 6% feel concerns about money having a negative impact on their enjoyment of Christmas, the survey of more than 2,000 people found.

Demand for debt advice from people calling the National Debtline tends to spike around the new year. MAT said December is almost always the quietest month of the year at National Debtline, while January is almost always the busiest as households come to grips with extra borrowing over the holidays.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of MAT, 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."

National Debtline has launched a social media campaign called #FeelsLikeChristmas to highlight the positive impact of seeking free debt advice.

Here are some money tips from National Debtline:

:: Set a Christmas budget. Make a list of who you need to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it

:: If you are getting paid earlier than usual in December, consider paying household bills such as rent, council tax, gas and electricity straight away, so you know what you have left to spend on Christmas

:: Shop around for deals and make the most of early Christmas sales

:: If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and create a household budget to make sure the repayments will not leave you in difficulty

:: I f you are worried about money or debt, seek advice from a charity-run service such as National Debtline as soon as possible.