One in three people in Northern Ireland will overspend on Christmas this year, according to new research commissioned by Danske Bank and its charity partner Action Mental Health.
In the survey of over 1,000 consumers, 20 per cent said they set a budget for Christmas but often go over it, while a further 13 per cent said they do not set a budget and always spend more than they can afford.
Almost a quarter of respondents said they set a budget and are able to stick to it. A further 43 per cent said they do not have a formal budget but manage not to overstretch themselves financially.
These latest findings come on the back of research published by the Children’s Society last year that suggests children living in families struggling with debt are five times more likely to be unhappy than children in families who don’t have difficulty with debt.
Jonny Smyth, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Action Mental Health, said: "We all know Christmas can be very expensive, with the cost of presents, food and decorations. Worrying about how to pay for it all can lead to anxiety and stress, putting strain on personal relationships and impacting negatively upon the whole family. Action Mental Health is encouraging everyone to look after their mental health this season, and indeed all year round.”
Alison Falls, External Relations Manager at Danske Bank added: “While it is encouraging that almost half of respondents plan ahead and set themselves a budget for Christmas, it is also concerning that a third of those we surveyed will spend more than they can afford and start the new year in debt.
“The impact of this debt on families and in particular, on children is worrying. While it’s easier said than done at this time of year, especially in households with children, we would encourage families to look closely at their finances and work out what they can realistically afford to spend on Christmas. There are more and more pressures around Christmas now, so it’s important to take a step back, prioritise the things you need to buy and try to avoid over-spending on things like gifts and decorations. Keeping in control of your spending will make for a more enjoyable Christmas and a healthier start to the new year.”
Danske Bank, together with its staff and customers have been fundraising throughout 2017 for Action Mental Health’s ‘Healthy Me’, a health promotion programme for 8-11 year olds that aims to positively promote mental health and social and emotional wellbeing in children.