Christmas is a great time of year, spirits are high, families get together and there is generally a good feeling in the air however we can also get caught up in the trap of overspending, feeling that we cant say no and causing ourselves lots of issues as we go into the new year.
With a month to go before the big day, the organisation which helps people with spiralling debts, wants people to do their Christmas shopping with a clear strategy.
Bolton CAP centre manager Anna Wynn said: “These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say, “at least we’ll have a great Christmas” and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got.
“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear. The New Year is full of uncertainty: job losses, VAT will be going up, benefits are changing, energy bills are rising and we don’t know what interest rates will do. If we were ever going to get our spending under control at Christmas – it should be this year.”
Half of those with out-of-control debt have at some time taken out a loan to cover the cost of festive season, according to the charity’s own national client statistics.
Many of those then went on to lose their homes, be unable to feed and clothe their children, suffer mental health problems and even consider suicide.
“We’re not party poopers. We just want people to enjoy Christmas and not be anxious about whether they will be able to pay it all back,” she added.
There are 2 local centres, based at The Bridge Church and St Peter's, Halliwell. The new centre opened in November 2010. Both centres give free face-to-face debt counselling to all quarters of the community, not just Christians. The service is unique because the charity visits people in their own home, sets a budget, contacts creditors and then offers holistic support until the client is debt free – often within five years.
The Bolton Centres are among 150 such church-based centres tacking UK poverty head on.
To find out if CAP can help you with your debt, call 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capuk.org
CAP’s Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Festive Debt
1. Decide what you have to spend. Make a list and be realistic. Paying in cash may help you keep control. Let your children see your careful planning – you’ll be teaching them a valuable life-long lesson.
2. Manage expectations early. If things are tight don’t be afraid to say so to family members. You’ll probably all be in the same boat and it may lead to a happier Christmas for them too!
3. See if relatives will club together with you to buy children what they would like, rather than individually over indulging them and all feeling out of pocket.
4. Buy fewer presents but more cheaper trimmings like paper chains and crackers. They all add to the fun without costing very much.
5. Never take out a Christmas loan! Remember the possible consequences could be disastrous for you and your family.
6. Try to make presents as opposed to buying them. For example, delicious homemade biscuits, chocolates and fudge make a lovely gift and show you've spent time and care.
7. Remember - you can't buy love. Don't feel guilty if you can't afford the latest present for your children. Your love and affection will last longer in the memory than any toy can.
8. Don't fall into the trap of reciprocal gift giving and don't buy out of obligation.
9. Don't overspend in the January sales, in spite of how good a bargain you might see. Make a budget and stick to it and if possible, leave those credit cards at home.
10. Enjoy all the low cost things on offer– the lights in town, get togethers, making mince pies, playing family board games, seeing your kids in the school nativity - and have a very Happy Christmas!
Member since: 10th July 2012
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