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Struggling Financially at Christmas? This is for you…

Joanna Clare

Whether you are struggling to survive on a low wage, you are still looking for work or suffering from the implications of all that happened economically because of the pandemic, many people are worried about affording Christmas.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, there are many things you can do to ease the pressure that you are feeling.

Check that you are receiving the correct benefits. Both unemployed and many working people are entitled to certain benefits including help with your rent and council tax. It is worth asking your local jobcentre for advice or there are several excellent websites that will help you by working out exactly what you are entitled to and how to go about applying for them. Often payments can be backdated so this is certainly worth looking into. Your local council offices and also the Citizens Advice Bureau are also there to help.

If you are in debt, it is most important to seek specialised help. Debt can be managed and often the specialists can contact the creditors on your behalf to arrange reduced or  consolidated payments. Some debts can even be ‘written off’. If you struggle to pay your bills, contact the utility companies as they have dedicated staff that can help you in various ways once they are aware of your situation.

Food banks are becoming increasingly popular and there is certainly no need to feel embarrassed in contacting them and explaining your plight. In the last year, according to The Trussell Trust, over 2.5 million people in the UK approached a food bank for assistance. Sometimes you can apply directly or you can be referred by other agencies ~there will undoubtedly be one near to you wherever you live.

Try shopping online for the big day as that way you cant be tempted into buying unnecessary or luxury items. If not, make a shopping  list and stick to it. Buy the shops own brands which are so much cheaper.

Often Christmas brings stress because of other people and their expectations of you. There's a huge pressure on people to make them happy and to fulfill their material wishes and this is where you can really make a difference.

Young children are generally delighted with anything. For them it's more about the magic and the excitement than expensive gifts. Cheap gifts and stocking fillers can be found in many shops and pound stores so you don't have to spend a fortune at all. Older children need to be realistic and probably don't need or really want half of what they've asked for. Relatives and good friends should be more understanding of your financial plight and if you can't afford a gift then don’t get one just for the sake of it. This is where homemade gifts can come in handy ~ scout around charity shops ~ vintage books, for example,when nicely wrapped make an especially thoughtful and inexpensive gift.

Christmas is hugely anticipated for weeks but once the actual day is over, it is soon forgotten. In February, ask someone what they got for Christmas and most people can not remember. Whatever your personal beliefs are, Christmas was never meant to be about lavish gifts, worry, stress and unnecessary expense. Its origins are humble and holy.

Do Christmas your way and do what is important to you. Have the kind of day that you want, not what other people expect of or from you whilst ensuring you look after yourself well~mentally, emotionally and physically. Take the reins and be the Santa of your own sleigh this year and get ready to fly yourself into a prosperous 2022!

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