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'Financial stress always spoilt Christmas'


Rebecca McConkey and children Ruby and Oliver

Rebecca McConkey and children Ruby and Oliver

Rebecca McConkey and children Ruby and Oliver

Single mum Rebecca McConkey (35) used to dread Christmas as her festive spending spiralled out of control.

Rebecca, a nurse at Belfast City Hospital, lives in east Belfast with her two children, nine-year-old Ruby and Oliver (4), and became a client with debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Northern Ireland four years ago after wracking up £30,000 of debt in eight years.

She is looking forward to the holiday for the first time this year.

"At Christmas time I would automatically hit credit cards and store cards to try and spread the cost. I was trying to meet my own expectations of how I was going to provide for the children and how special things had to be.

Once I had overspent on Christmas presents, we didn't have enough for daily living - food and bills and increased heating costs. There was a stage where I wouldn't turn the heat on, even though it was cold. Any cash I had went on Christmas presents.

Before I worked with CAP I had a real fear and panic about how to cope and deal with Christmas. It has been quite scary before.

You hit the second week of January - when you've been paid early before Christmas, you have no money left and you know that there's going to be massive bills - and I always look back and think 'What was the point? I'm now paying for this one day for the rest of the year'. It's a sinking sensation of 'What have I done?'.

Financial stress always spoilt Christmas for me - I can't remember the last time I went out shopping for Christmas presents and enjoyed it. You're sucked into spending more.

Belfast Telegraph