Getting back in the black over Christmas

Presents, nights out, drinks, dinner; Christmas is all go and can certainly put a dent into the bank book. With continued spending it’s not uncommon for people to fall into the red, but it’s easier than you think to get back in the black.

There’s no denying that the festive season can be expensive, no matter how good you are at budgeting.

From work nights out, catching up with friends, booking travel home and buying presents for loved ones, those precious pennies will disappear fast.

As people across the UK spend more on Christmas than ever before, there is a higher chance of paying off Christmas 2018 way into next year.


“People can end up in various forms of debt as a result of the festive holiday: credit cards, loans, and overdraft debt being the most common,” says Lisa Cope, financial capability officer at Money Advice Scotland.

It is not uncommon for the cycle of debt to continue into a new year, and Lisa explains that many families will rely on further credit to fund Christmas in 2019.

At the start of 2018, figures reveal that 7.9 million people said they were likely to fall behind on their finances due to overspending at Christmas.

“Setting a realistic budget in the first instance helps. Maybe do a list of who you are buying for and what gift you will be getting them,”advises Lisa.

“Keep an eye out for sales, but only buy items on your gift list – it is easy to get caught up and panic buy gifts which were not planned, nor required. There are also alternatives to consider, such as a Secret Santa.”


For people with a big family, buying an individual present for everyone will build up costs rapidly.

The introduction of Secret Santa is not only fun and adds an extra dash of excitement to buying and opening presents, it will save everyone a lot of money.

Everyone in the family is given the one person they have to shop for, alongside a budget, and then off you go to the shops. Lisa adds: “I am doing this with my own family this year, we choose one person’s name from a hat and we have an agreed limit of £50 to spend. This is not only cost saving, but also saves a lot of stress from having to try and get lots of smaller gifts.”

There are many apps and websites available now to facilitate the surprise factor of Secret Santa including: Draw Names, Secret Santa Organizer, and Elfster.

Getting back into the black after Christmas doesn’t have to cause sleepless nights. Lisa encourages creating a budget, and sticking to it as much as possible, setting aside money each week or month specifically for Christmas or even joining a Credit Union.

Simple steps can help take the pressure off the festive season.

 Citizens Advice Scotland

Scottish Debt Help

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