Christian charity warns about holiday debt
Bob Allen, Associated Baptits Press
December 07, 2010

Christian charity warns about holiday debt

Christian charity warns about holiday debt
Bob Allen, Associated Baptits Press
December 07, 2010

BRADFORD, England — A

Christian debt-counseling charity in the United Kingdom is calling on people to

avoid using credit cards and loans to pay for their Christmas shopping this


Christians Against Poverty,

a ministry that advocates poverty relief through debt counseling advice and

practical help, warned Nov. 25 that poor Christmas shopping habits can burden

families with significant debt.

Matt Barlow, the charity’s

chief executive officer, said tough economic times can tempt shoppers to

rationalize “at least we’ll have a great Christmas” and use that as an excuse

to overspend.

“If you’ve already caught

yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear,”

Barlow said in a press release.

The charity’s research has

found that half of homes with out-of-control debt have at some time taken out a

loan to cover the cost of Christmas. That’s likely to get worse, Barlow said,

as economic uncertainties continue into the New Year.

“We’re not party poopers,”

he said. “We just want people to enjoy Christmas and not be anxious about

whether they will be able to pay it all back.”

CNBC has reported research finding that

a record 43 percent of American shoppers plan to spend less for Christmas this

year than they spent in 2009, compared to 11 percent who plan to spend


Christians Against Poverty

suggested 10 ideas for avoiding holiday debt:

  • Decide what you have to

    spend. Make a list and be realistic. Paying in cash may help you keep control.

  • Manage expectations early.

    If things are tight, don’t be afraid to say so to family members. They are

    probably in the same boat.

  • Suggest that relatives

    pool expenses to buy children gifts they want instead of overindulging them


  • Substitute expensive

    decorations with things like paper chains and cookies that add to the fun

    without costing much.

  • Never take out a Christmas

    loan. The consequences could be disastrous in terms of family debt.

  • Give homemade gifts,

    such as vouchers for services like ironing and babysitting or cookies and


  • Don’t feel guilty if you

    can’t afford the latest present for your children. You can’t buy love, and it

    lasts longer in the memory than any toy.

  • Avoid the trap of

    reciprocal gift-giving and buying out of obligation.

  • Don’t overspend in the

    January sales, no matter how good a bargain you might see. Make a budget and

    stick with it. If possible, leave the credit cards at home.

  • Enjoy low-cost

    entertainment like lights in town, family board games and holiday programs at churches

    and schools.

Sam Brink, minister of

church resources and mission support for American Baptist Churches of

Wisconsin, proposed another checklist of

questions to ask one’s self after the holiday season is over.

  • “Was my Christmas

    experience one of good news for me and for those around me?”

  • “Do I feel comfortable

    today with the amount of money that I/we spent over the Christmas holidays?”

  • “What of myself did I give

    away this Christmas?”

  • “Did I/we have a Christmas

    spending plan and did I/we stick to it?”

  • “Did it really feel more

    blessed to give than to receive?”

  • “What do I/we need to do

    this year to make sure (next) Christmas will be different?”

  • “How did my/our church

    help me/us to celebrate Christmas in a financial healthy way?”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is

senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)