How to pay for Christmas

11 November 2014

Christmas is a time of joy for many – but a strain on the purse strings for millions who struggle to pay for Christmas, with the high costs of presents, food and drink, parties and travel.

A report claims that one in 10 adults are still paying off debt they accumulated last Christmas on loans, credit cards or other forms of borrowing.

So here are some top tips for handling your finances sensibly through the Christmas period:

Write down your Christmas budget

Draw up a budget and stick to it, even though it may be tempting to spend more.

Start your shopping soon if you haven’t already. Spreading your Christmas purchasing over a longer period means you're less likely to need to resort to borrowing.

It all means you'll avoid the last-minute temptation to overspend.

Spend within your means at Christmas

Half of respondents to the Debt Advisory Service findings said they would be able to manage all of the costs of the season from their earnings. 

Spending only what you have is a less common method of money management these days. But it will be a relief, as well as rewarding, not to start the New Year saddled with more debt.

Choose your credit card wisely

One in eight of those surveyed revealed that they expect to need to borrow to pay for some or all of their Christmas 2014 spending. 

If you are among those who need to borrow to see you through the festive season, then do it in the most cost efficient way using a credit card which offers 0% interest on purchases.

There might be just enough time to apply for such a credit card, and still have time to shop. It typically takes around three weeks. But this is only for the very disciplined as the 0% offer is only given for a set period after which interest charges kick in. 

To avoid being stung make sure you only pay back what you can afford.

Find out more about balance transfers on credit cards.

Get to grips with your debts

If you're already juggling debts built up last year and are planning to borrow again this year - if you can - because your finances are too stretched to cover the expense of the festive period, it might be time to seek professional debt advice. 

Don’t leave it until after Christmas: get help now. 

January is a very busy time for debt charities so you could be seen quicker if you get in touch now. Visit and to get free advice. 

Watch out, though, for other debt companies which could cost you fees if you set up a debt management plan. 

Charities will act on your behalf for free.

How to clear your debts.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.