Finances at Christmas
None of us expected a year quite like 2020. For many, this year has been a year of uncertainly, loss, worry, anxiety and change. As the pandemic progressed, more people across the UK had to shift their way of working; many were placed on furlough; some took pay cuts; and others were unfortunately made redundant.
As we get closer to the festive period – one that is historically difficult for those who are struggling financially – it’s important to remember that this Christmas will look different to previous years. It’s also incredibly important to remember that as a global community – we’ve been through a lot this year, so adding the pressure of Christmas spending to your financial anxiety could worsen your mental health and wellbeing.
On HOPELINEUK we often hear from people whose debt is a factor in their thoughts of suicide. We also speak to many people who struggle at Christmas for many different reasons. Debt and Christmas unfortunately can go hand in hand for a lot of people.
Many people really struggle to talk about their finances, even to the people closest to them. Maybe that reluctance to talk about it when things aren’t going well is partly due to an assumption that a good financial situation is a sign of ‘success’. People might see debt, low income and financial struggles as a sign of weakness or some sort of failure. Sometimes, the more someone tries to fix their financial situation, the more debt they create.
At Christmas people can suffer from another false assumption. They might feel that the amount of money they spend is a direct representation of how much they love the people they are spending it on. For instance, couples can get caught up in trying to match and even outdo each other’s spending.
Christmas can be particularly difficult for parents, who want to show their children how much they love them. This is especially true when they feel that the parents of their friends are spending more. It’s not just the presents they could be paying out for, but extras such as decorations, trips out and festive food. It’s understandable that, with high expectations and ever-present marketing around Christmas, people can feel a lot of pressure to spend beyond their means.
Once you realise that showing how much you love someone at Christmas is not down to how much money you spend, then you can go a long way towards avoiding debt that can have such a negative impact on your mental health and happiness.
There are many ways to spend less money on presents whilst still making them personal – showing love and thought that has gone into them. Decorations can be made and food treats can be baked – both of these can be fun activities which allow you to spend more time with the people you love. Equally you can shop around for the best deals or keep an eye out for any offers on consumer advice websites like MoneySavingExpert. When organising trips out remember the most important thing you can spend together is time not money.
The best way to keep your finances healthy at Christmas could be by having an open conversation about this with your loved ones. Ultimately, you might well find that they are relieved at the idea of spending less on Christmas too.
If you are struggling with debt and this has contributed to thoughts of suicide, you can contact HOPELINEUK for confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, via text on 07860 039967, or on email via firstname.lastname@example.org.