The spending frenzy
The twinkly street lights and shop windows are drawing me in and I’m already tempted to spend more than I should. I took the younger kids off to the first Christmas fair of the season at the weekend to see Damian Lewis from Homeland switch on the Christmas lights and it really got me in the mood to start buying Christmas cards and advent calendars.
Despite the lovely atmosphere and even lovelier reindeer who transported Father Christmas to his early bird grotto, it didn’t take long before my heart was hardening like a pre-op Grinch. I wasn’t surprised by the prices on the stalls – it was a chichi fete with matching expectations, so best friend Liz and I declined the £4 a glass mulled wine, agreeing that it was a little early and moved swiftly on to tut at the price of something else.
We ended up in Oxfam, where you are guaranteed a warm welcome and a neighbour to bump into as you rifle through someone else’s cast offs. I did pick up a lovely M&S black crepe dress for £9.99, which was a far better deal than the mulled wine and hog roast roll it would have bought me outside and it did make me think about how easy it is to part us from our money.
More proof came with the news this morning that personal debt has doubled over the last ten years leaving each of us, on average, with debts of £54,000, including mortgage debt. And according to the Centre for Social Justice’s Maxed Out report (centrreforjustice.org.uk) it is the poorest families who are shouldering the most disproportionate debts. The poorest ten per cent of people in the country have, on average, debts that amount to four times their annual income. That means they are spending half their disposable monthly income paying back debts.
According to Christian Guy, the director of the Centre for Social Justice, the pressure of debt is contributing to sleepless nights, mental health problems and a massive growth in homelessness. The only people who are benefitting from it are the pay day loan companies.
That is no way to spend Christmas. So this year I am going to rein in my spending and make sure I’m not adding to next year’s scary statistics.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn