Seasonal Debt Problems – How to minimise the debt hangover in January

Judith Howson


Seasonal Debt Problems – How to minimise the debt hangover in January

As soon as the schools go back after the Summer holiday, then the seasonal media assault starts: first Halloween, then Bonfire night and alongside these events the festive build up to Christmas begins in earnest.

Whilst it could be argued that the early availability of all these festive goods as soon as Autumn is a positive thing in order to allow people to spread the cost of Christmas, the commercialism of Christmas puts pressure on people to spend more than they can afford in an effort to keep up with the media’s expectations that everyone needs a new sofa, a freezer full of party food that they will never eat, and at least a few new sparkly outfits, together with a mountain of toys for their children, when often all the child is really interested in is the wrapping paper.

So how can you try to avoid the unwelcome debt hangover in January?

Here are a few tips:

Set your festive budget and stick to it

As the shops start to play festive tunes and every online retailer is offering discounts and ‘Black Friday’ deals, the first thing to think about is setting a budget for your festive spending. So make a list of all the family and friends you would like to buy for and set a spending budget for each of them and check it twice! Do you need to buy for everyone you have noted down? You could save a lot of money by deciding to buy only for the children and arranging a fun ‘Secret Santa’ or ‘lucky dip’ for the adults, so that each adult is only required to buy one adult present. Getting creative can reduce your festive budget too and these gifts could have a personal touch such as a family photo placed in a nice frame.

Shop around for toys for the children

We were all young once and will remember how fickle we were when it comes to toys, always badgering our parents for the new toy craze or fad. Whilst it is wonderful to try and tick every toy off your child’s Christmas list, the reality is that most children want new toys for Christmas day only to get fed up of them a few months or even weeks later. This behaviour leaves many disregarded, pre-loved toys in near perfect condition, taking up valuable storage place in the house. This is where cost savings can be made in the run up to Christmas as parents often look to sell unwanted toys prior to Christmas day, to make way for the new ones. Before buying brand new, look to social media and websites such as Gumtree and Ebay for cheaper alternatives; even local charity shops can be a treasure trove of nearly new toys at this time of year, that could save you pounds.

Shop around for the best deals

Retailers are falling over themselves to get your custom so it really pays to shop around, look at those who offer a price match, make use of price comparison websites and keep an eye on flash deals. Remember that a lot of sales start pre-Christmas nowadays so saving your Christmas shopping to the last minute may reap savings.

Don’t be loyal to one supermarket

Shopping bills can be immense at this time of year in particular. Compare food prices and don’t be loyal to just the one supermarket. Your nearest supermarket may not be the cheapest. Chains such as Aldi and Lidl are really challenging the market leaders and often provide fresh and luxury goods for a lot less than their competitors. Also be switched on to when supermarkets reduce items for quick sale in the run up to the big day, a lot of these food items can be frozen and kept for Christmas.

Remember what the festive period is really about

Is it really necessary to buy lots of potentially unwanted gifts when what is more precious at this time of year is spending time with family and friends? If you are struggling financially is it worth getting into more debt which may have an adverse impact on these significant relationships in the future. It is estimated that it could take the average person up to five months to pay off Christmas debt.

Pay your bills and keep some money back for emergencies

Just because Christmas is coming, it doesn’t mean the household bills don’t need to be paid. The bills for your mortgage, rent, council tax, gas and electricity don’t just disappear because it is the season of goodwill. So make sure you set some of your wages aside to cover these essentials especially if you are paid earlier than usual in December. Getting paid early makes January a very long month.

Also remember your snowy day fund, you need to hold some money back if at all possible for unforeseen circumstances such as a broken boiler or a frozen pipe.

Without the added pressure of the festive period, the rising costs of modern day living can leave your expenditure spiralling out of control at this time of year, especially if you are already struggling to meet the costs of day to day living.

Don’t be tempted to access instant borrowing

Unless you can afford to pay it back, accessing instant credit and maxing out your credit card is not a good idea, especially at this time of year and can leave you struggling to make ends meet in January. Ensure if you do decide to do so, that you check carefully the lender’s terms and conditions to make sure the repayments will be manageable in the future. Remember to always read the small print.

Get debt advice as soon as possible

Whatever the reasons for your financial difficulties, if the pressure is mounting in the run up to Christmas, the first thing you must do is realise you need to access debt relief help quickly and acknowledge that without this specialist advice these problems will not go away but will simply get worse. Worsening debt problems can have a negative impact on your mental health and your close relationships and this can lead to further negative events happening. These problems can seem so much worse in the run up to Christmas, when all around you seems to be smiles and mince pies. By confronting your financial problems as soon as possible without burying your head in the sand, will assist in making the problem more manageable and will lead to a much speedier process of becoming eventually debt free again. Don’t leave it until January to get the advice you need.

Once you have reached the conclusion that you have financial problems which you can see no hope of working through alone, you need to stop juggling credit cards, loans and other outgoings and make an appointment to come and see one of the French Duncan Debt Solutions team. One of our experienced team members will spend as much time as is necessary to understand your current financial position and work with you to try to find the right debt relief solution for you, this could be a Debt Arrangement Scheme or one of the formal debt solutions such as sequestration or a trust deed, each process will be fully explained to you before any decision is made to proceed with a particular option.

All this initial advice is at no cost to you and without any obligation. At no time will you be pressured to embark upon a particular route of insolvency or debt relief. We are here to help you find a solution which works best for you.

Prior to attending an initial meeting with one of our experienced team, you will need to collate and bring with you certain information to ensure the meeting proceeds as seamlessly as possible. The more information you can provide in readiness for the meeting the better it is for the team to ensure they can provide you with the best advice. Simply talking through your difficulties can help take the burden off you. Quite often an individual is struggling to manage their debt without even their family or close friends being aware of their situation. Many people report that after they have met with one of our experienced team they feel a bit better and more optimistic for the future. All of our advisors have received training by the Samaritans and Chris’s House and are therefore equipped to deal with the most vulnerable of debtors too.

To the initial meeting you will need to bring with you:

  • Photographic identification such as a passport, drivers licence or identity card. Should you not possess any such photographic id, we can take a photograph of you to verify meeting you and if this is required you should also bring a copy of your birth certificate as additional verification.
  • A recent utility bill with your name and address on it, valid within the previous 3 months.
  • The previous 3 months bank statements.
  • The previous 3 month wage slips.
  • Details of all the people you owe money to.
  • Details of any benefit payments you receive.
  • Details of your mortgage provider where applicable and where not details of your rent book.
  • Details of any car or other asset ownership, including any lease or hire purchase agreements.

At the initial meeting you can expect to receive a warm, friendly welcome and a confidential, safe environment to discuss openly your personal financial situation. The French Duncan Debt Solutions team member that you meet will talk through all the available options tailoring their advice to your individual circumstances and will take as long as is required to understand your current position in order to decide the appropriate next steps, whether that be entry to sequestration, trust deed or other debt solution.

You will not be expected to make any decision on your financial future then either and will be offered a period of time where you go home and reflect on the options available to you, knowing that one of our experienced team is at the end of a phone for any questions during this time. Only when you are ready to proceed will our team take the practical steps required to commence a formal process for you. Here at French Duncan Debt Solutions we realise that there is no ‘size fits all’ and that everyone needs and deserves to be given the correct, tailored advice to be able to move forward with their debt problems.

If you would like to make a confidential appointment call us now on: 0800 652 0002.

Get in
Touch