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Is It Ok To Get In Debt For The Perfect Christmas?

25/11/2013 14:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Christmas comes but once a year. Unfortunately, credit card statements come once a month - and many of us will still be paying for our festive overindulgence come Spring.

So if you're planning a last minute dash to buy those final perfect presents, it's worth taking a moment to check whether the state of your bank balance is anywhere near perfect.

Even though many of us have tightened our belts, shopping comparison website Kelkoo says that this year consumers will spend an average of £128 each on Christmas presents and other festive goods, taking the average family spend to almost £700.

Which isn't so bad if you can afford it - but many of us can't.

Is it ok to get in debt for the perfect Christmas?Have we been talked into getting into debt for the perfect Christmas? Photo: Getty

A YouGov poll for Intelligent Environments found that more than a quarter of adults have no savings and 31 said that they would spend more on credit cards and 39, can work out cheaper than bank charges or a credit card charge if they are paid off on time. But if they're not, the added interest and penalty fees can be exorbitant.

Nevertheless, insolvency trade body R3 says that these loans are increasingly popular among those aged 25-44 - and there are likely to be more applications than usual over the Christmas period.

With the threat of a double-dip recession hanging over us, it's clearly not sensible to rack up enormous debts just for the sake of one day.

So why do so many of us to it?

Primarily it's because we all feel so much pressure to make Christmas perfect.

It's all well and good for Reg Bailey, David Cameron's 'childhood tsar', to say that parents should cut back on the amount they spend on their children and pay off their debts instead - but most parents can't bear to disappoint and will inevitably spend more than they can afford.

But these days the presents are just the tip of the iceberg, as Christmas is getting steadily more expensive.

It's not so long ago that a frozen turkey, some Brussels sprouts, a bottle of sherry and a pack of mince pies would see you happily through Christmas day.

Now, thanks to Delia, Jamie and Nigella, we're stressing about brining our Kelly Bronze turkeys, cooking our festive ham in gallons of Coke, making homemade stuffing and finding the perfect non-drop Christmas tree.

During my childhood the (fake) Christmas tree was packed away every January and came back out with the box of decorations the following December. But fake trees have fallen out of fashion and a real one can cost more than £30.

Then there's the cost of all that socialising - even if you're usually happy with a quiet night in, most of us go out more at this time of year, and those Christmas spirits soon add up.

Yes, there are ways to cut costs - but making homemade presents, cards and wrapping paper takes time that most of us don't have, so it's tempting to just throw money at the problem.

Given that Christmas is one of the only times of the year that many of us get to spend some quality time with our nearest and dearest, I don't think it's terrible to push the boat out.

But if you're spending money that you don't have and are already worrying about how you're going to pay it back, cutting back could be the key to having a more relaxing break.

If you keep things simple - and stay solvent - you might not have such a lavish Christmas, but you'll have a much happier New Year.

By Ceri Roberts

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