Money worries put dampener on Christmas: how to manage festive spending

5 December 2016

A third of Brits are buying Christmas presents on credit this year, and five million are stressed out with money worries in the run-up to the festive season, new research has revealed.

National Debtline, run by charity the Money Advice Trust, found that around five million people ‘regularly worry’ and ‘feel stressed’ about money in the run-up to Christmas, with the anxiety spoiling their enjoyment of the day itself.

Of the 2,000 people polled, 6% admit that worrying about money is having a negative impact on their enjoyment of Christmas – equivalent to an estimated three million people. And a further 2% admit to having sleepless nights worrying about their Christmas spending.


According to the study, one in three Brits – equivalent to 16.5 million people – are putting Christmas spending on credit cards and loan agreements. And it’s not just gifts going on credit: 22% of Brits – or 10.8 million people – are borrowing money to splash out on Christmas food.

But it seems that some Brits are more sensible about budgeting for Christmas than others: 36% feel “well prepared” for the festive spend and 10% believe they will come in under budget. However, only 31% have a budget for their Christmas spending and10% admit they “try not to think about” money worries at this time of year.


‘Extremely difficult time of year’

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, says: “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.

“I would urge anyone suffering from worries about money or debt to seek free advice from National Debtline or another charity as soon as possible. The sooner you seek advice, the quicker we can help you to start getting back on track, and remove some of the worry that can make this time of year difficult.”


Managing your Christmas money

Here are National Debtline’s five festive tips to help you manage your money over Christmas.

1. Set your festive budget

Make a list of people you need to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it. Plan ahead when shopping for food, decorations, and visiting family and friends too. 

2. Keep paying your bills

Don’t be tempted to skip paying your household bills in December, such as mortgage, rent, gas and electricity. If you get paid earlier than usual in December, paying these bills right away will mean you know what’s left to spend on Christmas.


3. Look out for deals

Consider buying your presents a little later in the month when the sales start and use price comparison sites when making a big purchase. Always shop around to get the best price.

4. Don’t borrow more

When thinking about borrowing, consider whether you can afford to pay it back. If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and budget for the repayments.

5. Seek free advice

If you are worried about money or debt, seek advice from a charity-run service such as the National Debtline (

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