The Stress of Paying For Christmas On People Aged 55+

Written by Karen Bryan

Research by Damart has highlighted the increasing stress of affording Christmas gifts to many residents of the UK and the Republic of Ireland in the 55+ age bracket.

More than half the people (54%) taking part in survey said that they were worried about affording Christmas presents. An even higher proportion (64%) were finding that Christmas was an increasing source of strain and worry.

The was a noticeable difference in the responses between males and females, 62% of females were worried about the affordability of Christmas, and 72% of females were finding that Christmas was increasing stressful.

There was also a difference in the responses between interviewees in the 55-64 age bracket versus those aged 65+. In the younger age group, 65% were worried about the cost of Christmas and 72% were feeling increased stress from Christmas.

My interpretation of this is that, on average, women have lower incomes than men. However, I would have expected that 55-64 year olds would have higher incomes than those aged over 65, as a higher percentage of the younger age group would be still be working, meaning that Christmas would less of a financial strain and concern for the younger age group.

The majority of people (60%) taking part in the survey spent between 11% to 30% of their monthly budget on Christmas gifts. But if you are on a tight budget where most of your monthly income is needed to cover basic expenses such as rent/mortgage, council tax, utility bills and food, then using a fair percentage of your budget on Christmas present, could lead to not having enough money to cover the essentials.

A significant number of interviewees (37%) would consider taking out a loan to pay for Christmas. When broken down by gender, this increases to 49% for females and reduces to 24% for males. There is also a difference by age group, with 46% of those aged 55-64 considering borrowing money to cover Christmas spending, as opposed to only 18% in the 65+ age group.

According to the survey, around one third (34%) of people aged over 55, spend more than £300 on Christmas presents. As I anticipated, this level of spending was lower amongst women, standing at 29%, compared to 44% for men.

Those living in Belfast appear to be the most generous, with 60% of interviewees spending over £300 on gifts. Newcastle was a close second, with 59% being in the highest spend category. The Scots live up their scrooge reputation with only 12% of people living in Edinburgh spending more than £300.

In response to the findings of the survey, Damart has published an article on saving money during the Christmas period. It includes tips on using voucher codes, cashback websites, making your own gifts, drawing up and sticking to a budget, and using a zero percent interest credit card for buying presents.

Personally, I feel that Christmas has become too commercialised. A lot of pleasure of Christmas of spending time with loved ones has been overshadowed by the cost of buying the expected gifts. There’s a lot more pressure if you have kids or grandchildren. Of course, you want to please them by buying them lovely presents. But surely that shouldn’t put pressure on you to spend more on Christmas presents than you can comfortably afford.