Financial Stress at Christmas

Financial stress at Christmas can exert a considerable toll on individuals and families, impacting both emotional wellbeing and the overall holiday experience. The pressure to meet increased expenses, including gifts, decorations, travel, and festive meals, often leads to heightened stress levels. Research shows 54% of holiday shoppers say they expect to feel some financial burden in the upcoming holiday season. This stress can manifest in various ways, such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, and strained relationships. The desire to create a joyful and memorable holiday experience may clash with the reality of limited financial resources contributing to feelings of inadequacy or disappointment.

Coping with Financial Stress at Christmas

Create a Budget

Creating a budget during the holiday season, especially Christmas, is a crucial step in managing financial stress and ensuring a more enjoyable and sustainable celebration. Research from the National Debt Line shows that 6% of UK adults (that accounts for around three million people) feel the financial pressures make Christmas less enjoyable, and 2% even lose sleep in the run-up to Christmas because of this. To manage this, assess your current financial situation by listing your income sources and fixed expenses. Take into account any additional holiday-related costs such as gifts, decorations, travel, and special meals. It’s important to set realistic spending limits for each category to avoid overspending and prioritise essential expenses. By proactively planning and adhering to a budget, you can enjoy the festive season without the added stress of financial strain, ensuring a more sustainable and joyful holiday experience.

Avoid unnecessary overspending

Avoiding unnecessary overspending during the Christmas season is essential for managing financial stress and maintaining a healthy budget, however some people feel pressured to spend more than they need to. One study found that 60% of UK households overspend on presents and 64% on food. Another study conducted on UK adults aged 34 and under found 43% of people are worried about spending more than they can afford this Christmas, and 20% worry about spending more than they need. This can be managed through creating a detailed shopping list that includes all planned gifts, decorations, and other holiday-related expenses. Yet, be wary of impulse purchases and stay focused on the predetermined budget. By being mindful of your budget and making thoughtful, intentional choices, you can navigate the holiday season without succumbing to unnecessary financial stress at Christmas.

Take advantage of seasonal deals

Embracing seasonal deals and promotions can be an effective strategy to alleviate financial stress at Christmas. Begin by conducting thorough research on upcoming sales, discounts, and special offers from both retailers, both online and in-store. Research from the debt charity StepChange in December 2022 found that concerningly, a quarter of survey respondents (25%) felt they would struggle to afford Christmas. In addition to a third of people (30%) were planning on cutting back on everyday spending to fund the festive season. By strategically timing your shopping and leveraging seasonal promotions, you can stretch your budget further, allowing for more thoughtful and cost-effective gift-giving. However it’s crucial to remain disciplined and stick to your budget even when presented with tempting offers, ensuring that the allure of seasonal deals contributes positively to your financial wellbeing.

Consider creative gift-giving ideas

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Considering creative gift-giving ideas can be a thoughtful and budget-friendly approach to managing financial stress at Christmas. 57% of Americans say it has been harder to afford the gifts they want to give. Instead of focusing solely on material gifts, consider giving the gift of experiences, such as planning a homemade dinner, organising a movie night, or creating personalised coupons for services like babysitting or house cleaning. Handmade gifts can also add a personal touch without straining your budget – whether it’s a crafted photo album, a knitted scarf, or a batch of homemade cookies. Exploring these creative and meaningful gift-giving alternatives not only reduces financial stress but also emphasises the true spirit of Christmas – the joy of spending time with loved ones and expressing gratitude in thoughtful, heartfelt ways.

Get expert help in managing debt and finances

Seeking expert help in managing debt and finances can be a wise and proactive strategy for coping with financial stress at Christmas. Consider reaching out to financial advisory or credit councillors who specialise in debt management. Statistics show that eight in ten people feel more in control of their finances after getting professional financial advice. These professionals can provide personalised guidance on creating a realistic budget, prioritising payments, and developing a strategic plan to tackle outstanding debts. Engaging with financial experts can empower you with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed decisions about your financial situation.

Money and Mental Health

Financial pressures can significantly impact mental health, contributing to a range of conditions that affect overall wellbeing. Research shows 46 percent of people with debt also have a mental health diagnosis. The stressors associated with financial challenges, such as debt, unemployment, or the inability to meet basic needs, can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and depression. Constant worry about financial stability can create a pervasive sense of uncertainty and powerlessness, amplifying feelings of despair. Individuals facing financial difficulties may also experience physical health issues, including sleep disturbances and increased susceptibility to other stress-related ailments.

Moreover, the social stigma associated with financial struggles can lead to feelings of shame and isolation, exacerbating mental health challenges. Only one in five (22%) of people with mental health problems had spoken to a GP, social worker, or mental health nurse about how their finances affect their mental health. Conditions like chronic stress, anxiety disorders, and depressions often intertwine with financial struggles, creating a cycle where mental health issues further impede one’s ability to address financial concerns. Seeking professional support and adopting proactive financial management strategies can be crucial in breaking the cycle and fostering improved mental health and financial wellbeing.

Individuals who are already grappling with mental health issues may find that the financial strain of the holiday season further exacerbates their condition. Over four-fifths (86%) of people with mental health issues say that their finances made their problems worse. The tension between wanting to participate fully in the festivities and the practicalities of managing finances can create a challenging mental landscape. Many people find Christmas challenging, particularly if you have mental health problems. Mind’s survey of 1,100 people found that almost a third of people with mental health problems feel unable to cope at Christmas, almost three times that of the wider population. Coping with the financial demands of the season while prioritising mental health involves a delicate balance. It often requires open communication with loved ones about realistic expectations, setting boundaries, and finding alternative ways to celebrate, that emphasise emotional connection over material abundance.

How Can Wellity Support You?

Many festive seasons and holidays are associated with fun and celebration. With this can often be an expectation of increasing spending and indulgence, with a pressure to spend more, and overstretch budgets.

A Wellity session ‘Finances and the Festive Season’ will explore the financial pressures of the holidays, and why a shift in perspective and realignment of the true meaning of the holiday season can help ease the financial stress.


  • Understand consumer connection, false economy, and the psychology of marketing.
  • Discuss the common feelings and emotions experienced during the holiday season.
  • Explore parental guilt and the difference between needs and wants.
  • Establish ways to alleviate the pressure and enjoy the holidays.

For any information on our winter wellness sessions, contact us at

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