There's a lot of pressure to spend money during the festive season so it's no surprise that so many are feeling financial stress and anxiety.
One in 10 Brits worry about money in the run up to Christmas and a third reach for the credit card to cover the costs according to YouGov.
The same YouGov survey found that less than a third of Brits actually have a budget for Christmas and of those who do have a budget, only 10% think they'll stick to it.
We surveyed our followers on social media to find out if they had ever experiened negative feelings regarding their Christmas spending. Own our research shows that 60% have felt guilty about the money they’ve spent at Christmas, whilst half have spent beyond their means.
Financial stress can lead to relationship problems, sleep loss, depression and loneliness, which puts a dark cloud over such a joyful time of year.
The Consequences of Stress
Stress is a natural response from your body to threatening situations. Financial fears at Christmas are perceived threats, which causes your body to begin a chemical reaction readying you for your "fight or flight" instinct. Our bodies can and are designed to handle little doses of stress, however constant or chronic stress can have ill consequences on our health as well as the above personal problems.
There are mental or emotional symptoms, such as mood swings, constant thoughts and inability to relax, feelings of low self-esteem and loss of control, forgetfulness, poor judgement, inability to focus.
There are also physical signs of stress including headaches, upset stomach, aches and pains, chest pains, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, shaking and nervousness, dry mouth or grinding teeth.
Long-term stress can lead to mental health problems like depression, as well as physical disorders such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, skin and hair problems and gastrointestinal problems.
How To Alleviate Christmas Money Woes
Gift giving is a great part of Christmas, especially if it's a well-thought out present that the receiver will cherish. However, many are turning their backs on the consumerism of Christmas in favour of simple celebrations. Things that can be eaten, used or experienced are great go to rules for conscious gift giving.
A simple Christmas may not be for everyone though - plenty of people enjoy the indulgence of Christmas, especially after a long, hard year. But there are little things you can do to try and lessen the financial burden of Christmas and plan ahead for a more affordable celebration.
Prepare a budget - what money can you spare after your usual expenses. Make sure your regular payments are all made first - don’t avoid the bills for the sake of a few presents.
Create a spending plan - social expenses, present buying, travel costs, decorations, festive food. Figure out exactly where your money will be going.
Pay cash - avoid the credit card, no matter how tempted you are to use it. If you are going to borrow, make sure you can afford to pay it back. Create a budget for the new year with the repayments included so you know exactly how much you can take on.
Try DIY or homemade gifts - they may not work for everyone, but even just a few homemade gifts can save you some money. Dig out some old photos, recycle a scrapbook or old photo frames, DIY some candles or even bake some festive cookies. Try Pinterest for some inspiration.
Sometimes the best give you can give is your time - instead of spending considerable amounts of money on individual gifts for a group of friends, go for a meal together and enjoy each others company instead.
Shop around for deals - with so many people doing their Christmas shopping on Black Friday, the shops are starting to launch their Boxing Day sales before Christmas to try and drum up some last minute shopping traffic. If you’re willing to leave it until the last minute, you might be able to grab some late bargains.
Christmas will always be a more expensive time of year, but it doesn’t need to break the bank. Try some of the above tips with your Christmas shopping, or even start planning for next year! The best way to budget for Christmas to begin saving for it on Boxing Day.
Join the conversation
Do you have any Christmas spending tips to share? Let us know! We’ll be talking all things Christmas this week, so join us on Twitter or Facebook to discuss!