Every year, Christmas always involves a lot of pressure to spend. With modern day traditions like the Black Friday sales and its offshoots, including Cyber Monday, the push to spend, spend, spend, and spend it quickly has never been greater.
And while we’d never suggest you shouldn’t compare prices and buy when it’s cheap, you can easily get whipped up in the excitement of the sales and end up buying things you don’t really need. Retailers often reduce the items they know would be hard to get rid of if they weren’t discounted.
One common tactic that retailers and advertisers use to pull us in is giving us the feeling that everyone else is having a better Christmas than we are. This is especially tempting if you’re living on a budget – there’s often a feeling that we need to keep up the pretence that we don’t have money worries, and so we wander from our plans.
For one CAP Debt Help client, Margaret*, the drive to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, as they say, was one of the things that led to her falling deeper into debt.
‘I was prioritising the wrong things – buying my kids flashy trainers, going out for meals, doing everything I shouldn’t be doing instead of paying my mortgage, paying my bills. I was trying to live a life that really I shouldn’t have been, and it just was a downward spiral.’
Margaret admits she would bury her head in the sand, and as a result her debts grew worse and worse, until eventually she was facing enforcement agents at her door. Sadly, Margaret lost her house.
Since getting in touch with CAP, Margaret has managed to find a way out of debt and has moved into a new home. Now she’s debt free and things are looking up. Through CAP, she also got connected with a local church, which has had a huge impact on her life.
‘I started going to church with my CAP Debt Coach; it changed my outlook on the world. I didn’t need a big house, I didn’t need fancy cars, I didn’t need anything. When I moved into a rented house a stone’s throw away from church, suddenly all these people started helping me to furnish it! I’m remember thinking, ‘This is a bit weird’, because none of my friends from my old life would’ve bothered. Everything I needed for the house was generously donated through the church and through CAP.’
For Margaret, it wasn’t about the ‘stuff’, the physical items. It was about the act of generosity and love shown to her by the local church.
Do you remember everything you bought last Christmas? Or do you remember the time you spent with the ones you love? Do you think it’ll be the same months from now, looking back? Christmas doesn’t have to be a race to collect the largest pile of stuff and spend the most money, if you don’t let it. What could you cut down on this Christmas? What do you have to be grateful for?
*Name has been changed to protect identity