It’s amazing to think that we are approaching Christmas again and while this is wonderful time of year for most people, many get caught up in the unnecessary expense of the Christmas season. It is easy to forget that Christmas is not about costly gifts and putting yourself under extra financial pressure - it is about enjoying time with family and friends. As part of our “Let Santa be the only one in the red this Christmas” campaign, this week we released the results of a Christmas spending survey.
The survey results show that Irish consumers expect to spend €527 on average this Christmas compared to €562 last year. Middle aged adults and females are likely to spend more money than other groups. While 8 in 10 of us feel worse about their financial situation in the run up to Christmas 2012 58% of those who took part in the survey state that Christmas will be enjoyable regardless of financial worries. We also looked at spend in different parts of the country and found that those living in Dublin will spend close to €533, in the rest of Leinster €545, Munster €517, Connacht €488 and Ulster €520 on Christmas 2012. Irish parents plan to spend an average of €170 per child on Santa presents.
4 in 10 will be able to rely on their regular income to pay for Christmas related costs, a further four in ten will dip into savings to finance their Christmas celebrations. 19% hold savings specifically for Christmas, 5% will use their credit card, 5% will get a credit union loan, 2% will borrow from family and friends and a further 2% will borrow from moneylenders. The moneylenders statistic in particular is very worrying and we would urge anyone who is considering approaching a moneylender to reconsidering given the high rate of interest charged. Those who have borrowed from a moneylender will more often than not find that they get into a vicious circle of debt that they cannot get out of.
More than half of consumers (56%) expect to experience a shortfall in spending over the Christmas. 25% believe that they will end up paying for Christmas well into the New Year because of unnecessary financial expense. 31% worry where they will get the money to pay for extra expenses for Christmas.
7 in 10 consumers will take a month or more to recover from overspending at Christmas. Consequently it will take on average of 2 months for a typical consumer to recover financially from the holiday season. Male consumers are likely to recover more quickly (7 weeks) than their female counterparts (9 weeks).
With money being tight, there is a strong belief that Irish people spend way too much money on Christmas and 45% believe that Christmas can be a stressful time.
It's easy to say but it's still true - the best gift at Christmas is being together - and that costs nothing. Many families do Kris Kringle or Secret Santa gifts. Some families only give gifts to children. There are many ways of saving money without taking away the magic. Setting a Christmas spending budget is more important now than ever as is writing a list. Plan how much you can afford to spend - and stick to it. This will allow people to be in a better position to keep a tight rein on the Christmas shopping costs. Avoid moneylenders and consider that if you cannot afford to pay for something without a loan, you simply cannot afford it.
Before you buy, compare online and between shops. You’ll be amazed at the difference. Buy from reputable websites and check they guarantee delivery before Christmas. Many shops will have sales before Christmas. Ask around, and maybe you could get those presents for even less! Look for interest-free deals when buying furniture or electrical goods - but make sure to compare prices. If you are suffering from debt stress or already owe money to moneylenders, call into your local credit union to discuss your options.
On that note I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and the very best wishes for the year ahead.