Debt is not just for Christmas!


These last couple of weeks I’ve been living in a tiredness and stress related fog-like state.

Had to do the last of my teaching and the later in the semester it is, the more it takes out of me.

Marking has started coming in; and of course it has to be done promptly and marks published before the student-customer gets impatient.

To top it all, last Monday I came down with the flu that goes with bad headache and a bundle of pain.

But even I noticed that:

  • People have been asking what I am doing for Christmas; and
  • Christmas jingles are polluting my favourite radio station.

Most of all, I went to the city centre to have my haircut and the shops were so full that I half expected ambulances to come and collect the victims of involuntary suffocation.

Given that we are still in recession; unemployment though getting better is still fairly high; and the level of debt in the UK is at a record high (on average, £28,000 ($45,700) per adult) made me curious.

Since ‘geeky’ is reputedly the new ‘s*xy’, I engaged in some casual empiricism.

This is what I found.

According to a study conducted by YouGov this year UK households expect to spend on average £822 ($1,343) on Christmas.

Of this on:

  • gift Brits expect to spend £599 ($979);
  • food and drink £180 ($295); and
  • decorations £43 ($70).

At the same time, another study conducted by SurveyCompare found that:

  • Nearly half of the people contacted were worried about the cost of celebrating Christmas this year; one in five people are extremely worried;
  • Almost half feel pressured to spend more than they can afford;
  • One in four people said they’ll be using their overdraft facility to pay for Christmas; more worryingly, one in ten would consider taking out a payday loan to finance Christmas;

Last but not least, according to a study the average UK adult can expect to receive at least two unwanted gifts for Christmas costing about £43 ($70).

So let me see whether I can get this one right.

This year for Christmas – just like many previous years – most of us intend to spend large amounts of money, they generally don’t have mainly on gifts people don’t need, want or like.

Am I the only one who thinks that there is something wrong here?

How much do you estimate you’ll spend for Christmas this year and on what? Is the spend pushing you in debt?

And I may as well answer first:

I have spent/am going to spend about £230 ($376) on Christmas and New Year. This includes gifts for sons and John (practical things I know they need), nice food and several outstanding bottles of wine. One ought to get their priorities right, after all :). No debt; you know my opinion of that.

photo credit: mohammadali via photopin cc

11 thoughts on “Debt is not just for Christmas!”

  1. I don’t understand how people separate spending and the ability to pay for the purchases! The credit interest rates always stopped me from overspending. I would rather receive a smaller, less expensive gift than have people go into debt.

    1. Credit, dear boy, credit! It’s so easy to get in the UK these days. Up until recently you had 18-year-old shop girls encouraging you to take out a store-card with 30%+ interest rates, despite the fact they had no FSA (Financial Services Authority – don’t know the US equivalent) accreditation.

      Buy now, pay forever!

    2. @Krant: But they can pay, you see; or this is what people think. Once there is plastic and credit, the relationship between buying things and paying for them becomes really blurred.

  2. I spend a little less than the amount in the study ($600 for gifts, $150 for travel, $400 for food, parties, crafts, etc), but around the same. I can afford it though, so that’s the difference. I would never take out debt for Christmas!

    1. @Daisy: Well, when these numbers are converted into British pounds you are not doing that different from me. Of course, you are right – having the money to spedn without getting in debt is important.

  3. Though there may be various agencies putting out their figures on debt, but i know that teens in my family don’t care on that. They just have one argument that it is the only major time when they can spend money freely.

    I hope we must have some good economic lessons in schools mandatory for every student to let them know the economic hardships of the country too.

    1. @Jones: I whole heartedly agree that we need sound money management education in schools. As it is, my students (undergrads and above) obviously have no idea how to manage money.

  4. I have spent almost nothing so far, we’ll have a small family dinner and a couple of gifts. I hope you guys have a happy celebration and a lovely time.

    1. @Pauline: Thanks, Pauline. We’ll have a family Christmas lunch with three sons and my sister (I hope) according to UK custom. We probably will have a Bulgaria dinner on Christmas Eve (many vegetarian dishes for luck and prosperity). Will have a glass of wine raised to you :).

  5. I can’t imagine spending so much money on a holiday (anymore- I’ve definitely been stupid with money in the past)! My wife and I use Christmas as a time to give each other “gifts” that we need and can afford, even if it’s something small like underwear or socks. I hear coworkers and friends talk about using their entire yearly bonus to pay for Christmas, or layaway and credit cards, and I’m just shouting on the inside as I nod my head in agreement to whatever they are saying.

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