Martin Lewis, the popular finance wizard, was on the telly the other night highlighting how it is possible to reduce our Christmas spending budget with his catchy “the Twelve Saves of Christmas”. Personally I find he gives good advice. He even had the Archbishop on his programme (Perhaps Archbishop Justin is a fan too?) giving sound advice about the meaning of Christmas – more of which later.
People seem to go mad at Christmas spending money like there is no tomorrow. This year the average predicted spend* over the Christmas season is expected to be £445 per adult; and the average gift spending on children is predicted to be £132. So the average family is set to splash out over £1,000.
The disturbing part of this is that 47%* of parents admit to feeling pressured into this and spend more than they can afford. It is estimated that the so-called “Payday Loans” firms out there will attract over one million people*, this Christmas, trying to make ends meet and paying horrendous interest rates in the process.
It is after Christmas, of course, when all this spending has to be accounted for. We know from previous years that January and February are the busiest months for the professionals who counsel those in debt.
Speaking to Martin Lewis Archbishop Justin said: “The Christian bit of Christmas isn’t the bit that’s getting people into debt”; and advised that people should “show love and affection rather trying to buy love and affection”.
We all know that true love and affection are not for sale – never have been – but we get conned by the big glossy ads (and the little sneaky ones too) and pay up.
And then there is the old problem of choosing a gift for someone who, if we are painfully honest, doesn’t really need anything from us. There is a solution: Give the gift to someone else who has real need. For the past few Christmases Stella and I have given each other small presents and then sent a donation to a charity. This year we have given to the Philippines typhoon disaster appeal.
Enjoy Christmas; spend quality time with loved ones; bask in the love of the Christ Child given and sent to us; and try not to get into too much debt.
A Holy and Blessed Christmas to you and all who you hold dear.
*All figures from the Money Advice Service: moneyadviceservice.org.uk.