If you have difficulty making ends meet or are struggling to pay down a debt, then that problem can often feel exacerbated over the Christmas period.
The first thing to do is to be realistic about what you can afford and how much you need: set expectations among your family that recognise this year will be frugal.
But we recognise that there are a lot of less materialistic things – such as travel plans to see far flung family members – that can also cause your Christmas costs to boom, and dealing with financial concerns over Christmas can be an emotional experience as much as a practical one.
So, ideas for frugal gifts aside, here are a few other ways to make Christmas more manageable if you really are struggling.
Coping with the cost of Christmas
Get help from the Trussell Trust
Image Source: The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust are a UK charity which offer “emergency food during crisis situations such as redundancy, benefit delays or receiving an unexpected bill.” Head to the ‘get help’ page of their website to find out more about how you can make use of their services if you need to.
There is an application process to ensure that you have genuine need, but the information on the site makes it easy to get started. Aside from food, they can also provide non-food essentials such as hygiene items.
Look into getting a grant
It’s unlikely that you’ll find a charitable grant designed to cover the more frivolous costs of Christmas, however there are options out there to help you meet your basic needs over the festive period.
This can alleviate a lot of the pressure you may be feeling, and at least give you some breathing space while you work out next steps for the new year. Your first stop should be the Turn2us site, which lets you search grants and benefits to see what you might be eligible for.
Don’t make debt help a New Year’s resolution
If you’ve been putting off reaching out for debt help then it’s easy to decide to wait until the new year – but the sooner you act, the sooner you can start putting a plan together. Imagine the peace of mind you could have simply from knowing that there’s somebody available to help.
Once you decide on a solution for managing debt, a lot of it’s power to cause anxiety (and its power to continue snowballing) is removed. We think that’s something that shouldn’t be put off until January.
On a practical level, charities like StepChange are often swamped in the new year, as many people decide to reach out.
Look after your mental health
Financial stress can trigger anxiety, sleepless nights and depression. This seems to be even more true over the festive period, and it’s a good reason to give yourself some TLC.
Mental health support services won’t be able to offer financial advice, but they can give you the emotional support to feel more in control.
That’s a great way to start turning your situation around. Never feel afraid to reach out to an organisation like the Samaritans, even if all you need is a listening ear.