Debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty is warning shoppers against taking out credit to cover the cost of Christmas.
In Northern Ireland, more than four in ten said the festivities had been a contributory factor in their debt crisis.
Ballymoney’s CAP Debt Centre Manager Beth Thompson said: “We know that persistently low income is actually the main driver of debt in the UK but these figures highlight that when your finances are fragile, overspending at Christmas can tip people into problem debt. Once you’re in that situation, we can tell you, it goes from bad to worse very quickly.
“We want families to stop getting swept along by the Christmas adverts and think about what is really important. We all want to provide for our children but what they need most is our time - not massive presents and being stressed. There are plenty of ways to have a great Christmas without overspending, you just have to get smart about it; chat to your family and say things are a bit tight and they’ll be glad you’ve been honest.”
CAP provides a free debt counselling service through 306 church-based centres across the UK. Locally, they are helping people with the help of their volunteers from three of the Churches in Ballymoney. Each centre is in partnership with the national head office whose staff negotiate with creditors on each client’s behalf and draw up a plan to help people escape the debt trap.
The help is free and available to everyone.
Beth added: “If you know your finances are already out of control and you’re receiving threatening letters about unpaid credit card bills or utility bills, please do call us before Christmas. A quick phone call to arrange a good day for a home visit and you’ll have set the wheels in motion. Every day we’re celebrating people going debt free and we want you to be one of those.”
Anyone wanting debt help can call 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org to find out about not just debt counselling but also money management courses and more.