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Managing your plan during the festive season

Preparing for Christmas can put a strain on a person’s budget. If you’re on a debt management plan (DMP) or Token Payment Plan (TPP) with us, it’s important at this time of the year to keep your plan on track.

You may be worried that you’ll struggle to pay your DMP or TPP in the months leading up to Christmas and the festive season. We understand the pressure that you may feel at this time of year, so we’ve put together some tips to help you stay in control of your plan and budget. 

1. Consider ways to make extra money

Looking at how you can make extra money through a second income could help you with your Christmas expenses. Thanks to the web and the growing popularity of ‘gig’ work, there’s likely to be some extra work you can do around your current job.

There may also be benefits you’re entitled to that you’re not currently claiming. While benefits aren’t intended to cover Christmas costs, they are intended to cover living costs which may make Christmas expenses easier to manage.

2. Look at ways you could save money on your bills

There may be ways you could save money on the things you spend money on regularly. Have you considered:

3. Think strategically about the money you spend on Christmas

You’re likely to spend more on food, clothing, toys and gifts at this time of year than any other. With this in mind, make sure you:

  • Shop around for the best deals on Christmas presents
  • Access a merchant’s website through a cashback website first, so you get some reward money for your purchases
  • Search for any discount vouchers you could apply to an online purchase
  • Consider places where you may get items cheaper, such as a clearance or charity shop

4. Consider gifts that don't come with a financial cost

If you can’t afford to buy presents for your loved ones, consider offering them a ‘priceless promise’. This is when you offer the person a favour or good deed in lieu of a physical gift. Examples of this include:

  • Offering to clean their home for an agreed amount of time
  • Offering to do their washing and ironing
  • Cooking a meal
  • Driving them to work
  • Offering to do some DIY in their home
  • Teaching a skill such as using a sewing machine, playing an instrument or learning a second language

How do I tell my children I’m struggling to pay for Christmas?

Your children may have expressed a wish for a specific gift that you know you’ll struggle to pay for. Consider talking to any loved ones that would usually buy your child a Christmas present and ask if they’d like to ‘pitch in’.

Explain to them that your child really wants a specific gift. Ask if they’d contribute cash to this gift instead of getting several, smaller gifts your child may not want as much. This helps you cover the cost of the gift, and also means less hassle for your loved ones and their own Christmas shopping.

It’s important to remember that Christmas isn’t just about getting presents. It’s also about laughter, fun and happy memories. You can have a wonderful Christmas with your family by:

  • Playing games for free such as board games, treasure hunts and charades
  • Watching Christmas films together
  • Going to free festive events in your local area
  • Visiting neighbours, family or loved ones
  • Having a festive arts and crafts session

Your older children (teenagers and young adults) are more likely to understand how Christmas can be a financial struggle. See if they can help you reassure your younger children that while there’s a limit on extravagant Christmas gifts, there’ll still be lots of fun and celebration.

Can I get a DMP or TPP payment break before Christmas?

You won’t be able to get a payment break in order to put more money towards Christmas. Creditors typically don’t accept Christmas and its related expenses as a reason for you to pause or reduce payments toward your plan.

Usually, we can only grant a payment break in situations such as:

  • An unexpected expense, such as a boiler breakdown or car repairs
  • A sudden change of circumstances, such as illness or the death of a loved one
  • Reduced income due to unemployment, redundancy or loss of benefits

There’s an allocated amount in your budget for ‘sundries and emergencies’. This is the money that can be set aside to cover expenses such as birthdays and Christmas. In order to keep things on track during Christmas, we’d recommend looking at all of the practical things you can do to save money or make extra money before the festive season.

Can I take out a loan to pay for Christmas?

Please don’t take out extra credit such as a loan to pay for Christmas. Doing this will require us to review your plan, as it was put in place to pay off the debts you have already.

I’m struggling to pay my plan after Christmas – what can I do?

If you’re struggling to make payments on your plan – or your living costs – once the festive season is over, please get in touch with us. We’ll do our very best to help you keep everything on track.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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© StepChange Debt Charity 2018