Newtownabbey debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty has issued a stark warning about the dangers of relying heavily on credit to fund Christmas.
With less than three weeks to go before the big day, the organisation, which helps people with spiralling debts, wants people to do their Christmas shopping with a clear strategy.
Newtownabbey CAP Centre Manager, Brian Givans said: “These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say, ‘at least we’ll have a great Christmas’ and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got.
“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear.
“Over indulging on presents for everyone in a mile radius is no longer in fashion. Most of us have seen our income squeezed significantly and will be scaling back, so we mustn’t feel the pressure to over consume.”
Half of those with out-of-control debt who contact CAP have at some time taken out a loan to cover the cost of the festive season, according to the charity’s own national client statistics. Many of those have gone on to lose their homes and some have suffered mental health problems or even considered suicide.
“We just want people to enjoy Christmas as the time of hope and celebration it ought to be and not herald the start of a terrible downward spiral,” Brian added.
The local centre, based at Carnmoney Presbyterian Church, opened in late 2009 and gives free face-to-face debt counselling to all quarters of the community, not just Christians. The service is unique because the charity visits people in their own home, sets a budget, contacts creditors and then offers holistic support until the client is debt free - often within five years.
Anyone who would like more information about the services offered by CAP should call 0800 328 0006 or log on to www.capuk.org
Fore more advice about how to avoid a financial headache come the new year, see this week’s Times...