VICTORIA BISHOFF: Wish your financials a happy Christmas, and don’t be afraid to say “bah humbug” about debt

A majority of my friends have put up their Christmas decorations sooner than usual this holiday season.

After all, if there’s one thing guaranteed to cheer us up amid the doom and gloom, it’s twinkly lights.

My family watched The Muppet Christmas Carol (November) and has since become avid listeners to Magic Radio. This radio plays non-stop Christmas songs as we get closer to Christmas.

Party time: But there is no escaping the hard reality that people are starting to feel very worried about their finances this Christmas

Parties are great, but it’s hard not to see that Christmas is a time when people start to worry about their finances.

But there is one tradition I just cannot muster any enthusiasm for — and that’s shopping.

Normally, I revel in spoiling loved ones with thoughtful treats — and, as my husband will attest, thoroughly enjoy tearing open a present or two myself as well.

But something just doesn’t feel right about splashing out on frivolous stocking fillers this year.

And I know I’m not alone. Family and friends tell me that gifts are not something they’re interested in. Many have requested to donate to charities or skip gifts altogether. Most of us just want to get together after a disappointing December 2020.

It is a hard fact that financial worries are becoming a common reality.

So common are shock energy bill increases that it has become an ongoing topic of conversation during dinner parties. Everyone is comparing the rises.

And I’m hearing tales of families huddling together in one room or sitting in the dark to cut costs.

People are now rethinking whether they will drive their car due to rising petrol prices. Many people switch to supermarkets at a lower price. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the idea of buying things we don’t need feels a little wrong this year.

Many families feel under pressure to spend more than their budget allows. 

As we have shown, they may end up with unfavorable amounts of debt.

The fact is, soaring inflation — now tipped to ‘comfortably exceed’ 5 pc next year — means most people are feeling poorer these days. There is no shame in telling the truth. If you’ve cut back this Christmas, or have thrifty tips to share, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to the address listed at the bottom of the column.

It’s time to be fair

It announced yesterday that the City watchdog will seek to introduce new rules which will require financial companies to communicate with customers in a way they can comprehend, provide products that fit their purpose, and provide helpful services.

While welcome news, it’s frankly appalling that businesses still need this spelling out for them.

And given that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) estimates its proposals will save insurance customers up to £11 billion over the next ten years, you have to wonder why it has taken so long for the regulator to intervene.

Let’s just hope that going forward it is quick to bear its teeth if companies refuse to play fair. Even if everything goes as planned, my job could be gone.

You’re a madman!

I was amused to see our friends at the FCA have also found time to team up with a music production company to create the UK’s first ‘anti-fraud jingle’.

The purpose of the campaign is to increase awareness regarding loan fee fraud. This refers to crooks asking for an upfront fee, then refusing payment.

According to the behavioural scientists who worked with the FCA, studies show people are more likely to remember — and believe — messages conveyed through the medium of song.

While I scoffed at first, I now can’t get the blasted tune out of my head.

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