Tis the Season for Debt Management, Reports Counselling Directory

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A recent survey conducted by Counselling Directory - an online database of counsellors and psychotherapists - has revealed that over half of respondents who visited the site during December have admitted to spending more than they can afford over the festive period. With Christmas overspending leaving thousands dreading their next credit card statement, is it really the season to be jolly, or is it the season to consider debt management?

Counselling Directory

Counselling Directory

58% of individuals who visited Counselling Directory during December admitted to feeling stressed or worried as a result of Christmas spending.

Unfortunately for many, Christmas does not turn out to be the picture postcard image they had envisaged, with a staggering number of people getting so carried away with splashing out on festivities and gifts that they find themselves dramatically 'in the red'.

According to survey results from Counselling Directory, 52% of respondents admitted to spending beyond their means at Christmas and almost half of respondents (46%) said they used their credit card to buy gifts.

Whilst Christmas Day may only come once a year, many individuals face lasting after effects as they are left to pay off their Christmas debt well into the New Year.

According to BBC News, Christmas 2011 will push a third of the UK into debt, a worryingly large proportion of the population considering the current fragile economic climate [1].

When it comes to debt there is more than just the practical issue of repayments to consider, with escalating financial woes often leading to depression, anxiety, shame, and in many cases the breakdown of both personal and professional relationships.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people who set themselves a Christmas budget give into the pressures of overspending and run up huge amounts of debt. With 56% of individuals admitting to feeling pressured into buying presents and 58% feeling stressed and worried as a result of the amount they spend during the yuletide season, what can be done to avoid getting into debt over Christmas?

The most prevalent advice from debt management experts is to plan ahead, prepare and budget - here are a few tips to help you to do so in what can be one of the most costly times of the year:

1. If you already have an outstanding balance on your credit card or are in the process of paying off a personal loan or overdraft, think carefully before spending anymore.

2. If you plan on borrowing money then ensure you have considered how and when you will repay it, and if possible budget for the repayments in advance.

3. Be realistic about your budget. Work out the amount you can afford to spend on each person and stick to it.

4. If you can afford to pay for gifts outright with your own money then no matter how good the deal, don't be persuaded to take out credit agreements.

5. Read the small print - always scour the small print for any hidden extras in any credit agreement before you sign on the dotted line. Interest free credit may initially seem appealing but if you don't pay on time you may be penalised and concealed extra costs may leave you worse off.

The most important advice of all is not to feel daunted by the idea of sticking to a budget, and not to fall into the trap of overspending. A moment of gratification watching a loved one opening a lavish gift is not worth the months of unhappiness experienced from being unable to pay the bills.

Evidence and research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that one in four people with a mental health problem is in debt and one in two people in debt have a mental health problem [2].

This strong evidence linking debt with mental health makes it ever the more important to ensure financial woes are avoided at all costs and are addressed immediately if they do begin to spiral out of control.

There are numerous organisations that provide debt advice and act on the behalf of individuals in negotiations with creditors. Many associations are not for profit and offer their services free of charge with the primary aim of finding the best solution for each individual’s personal situation.

Though practical advice on consolidating and overcoming debt is an essential factor - repaying the money owed is not the only issue to consider when it comes to debt. The underlying emotional factors such as stress and worry can also become overwhelming and it is important that they too are addressed.

Debt management counselling and psychotherapy helps to address the psychological factors and can help individuals to develop ways in which they can move forward on both a practical and emotional level.

Counselling Directory could prove to be a valuable tool for anyone looking for debt management help during this Christmas and New Year period. With a country-wide database of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists, visiting Counselling Directory could play an important role in helping individuals to face up to and resolve their debt problems as soon as possible.

About Counselling Directory

Counselling Directory recognised the need for a service that collated all of the information needed to help those in distress. Having access to the right information and finding the right counsellor is a really important step, and though other directories may supply contact details, Counselling Directory goes that extra mile and provides clarification of the support each counsellor offers.

Counselling Directory lists full profiles, detailing the areas of counselling each counsellor offers, the fees they charge and background information as to the kind of person they are, as well as providing a wealth of information about counselling and psychotherapy on the website so visitors can find all the information they need before choosing a counsellor.

References

[1] BBC News (2011) Christmas will push third of the UK into debt, says YouGov. Available: [2 The Royal College of Psychiatrists (n.d.) Debt and mental health. Available: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/quality/research/debtandmentalhealth1.aspx

Findings based on a survey of 83 visitors to Counselling Directory during December 2011.

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Emma Hilton, Press Officer
Memiah Limited
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