Four in 10 grandparents cut down on essentials to help families afford Christmas

7 December 2017

More than four in ten (43%) grandparents help their families to finance Christmas, but over three in 10 (36%) are making sacrifices to do so, a study from Scottish Widows’ think tank, The Centre for the Modern Family, reveals.  

Its Silver Supporters report, found that when it comes to the festive period, grandparents contribute on average almost £140 towards decorations, food, and gifts to ease the burden on their relatives. This is in addition to spending more than £400 on gifts of their own for children and grandchildren, bringing total expenditure to almost £550 – equivalent to the average December state pension payment. 

However, to fund this, grandparents have been forced to reprioritise what they spend their money on - from not treating themselves (90%), to turning the heating off or down (64%), to selling possessions (32%). Nearly a quarter (24%) of grandparents admit they feel more financial strain every year and did not expect to support their family as much as they do.

But it’s not just Christmas that grandparents help to fund, grandparents say they fork out financial help to the tune of over £2,200 throughout the year to keep their families afloat, with 15% making regular payments to their children to help cover the cost of rent, mortgages, and household bills. 

Jane Curtis, chair of Scottish Widows’ Centre for the Modern Family and non-exec director of Scottish Widows Board, says: “Our latest research shows a worrying trend of increased financial pressure on grandparents at this time of year. It’s concerning, although unfortunately a rising reality, that some grandparents are making a conscious decision to prioritise Christmas for the family over essentials such as food and heating.

“Money can be a difficult subject to discuss at any time of year but unless families have open and honest conversations, it’s difficult to create a two-way-street and support one another. We’d encourage anyone who is feeling financial pressures to talk about it with their family, and seek help and advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service.”

See our Cut your debts section if you’re struggling. 

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