Half of us will borrow to pay for Christmas
SANTA won't be the only one in the red this Christmas. More than half of the population will get into debt to fund the festive season, a shocking new survey shows.
And it will take most until the summer to pay off the loans taken out to finance the Christmas splurge, with some people expecting to take up to nine months to settle their debt.
Almost one-third of adults will use their credit cards to pay for presents, food and drink, with others resorting to money lenders, despite interest rates as high as 180pc.
The debts are expected even though households across the country have pared back spending as the economic downturn continues to bite.
Most people expect to spend around €500 this year, significantly down on spending in previous years, the survey conducted by iReach for the Irish League of Credit Unions indicates.
But men are set to spend more. Most men surveyed said they expected to shell out €750.
This has been put down to the fact that men are less organised than women.
Most women save specifically for Christmas, something that most men do not do, the survey shows.
The survey also found that key areas for cutbacks this year are presents and nights out.
But the majority of spending by adults at Christmas goes on presents, followed by food.
Women spend more specifically on presents than men, the iReach research found.
Chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions Kieron Brennan said Christmas was so important to people that they were temped to borrow beyond their means to fund it.
Of the 50pc of respondents who will get into debt this Christmas, many will take at least three months to recover from the overspending.
A quarter will take until the summer to get their spending back on track, and even for the majority it will take at least two months.
Mr Brennan added: "2010 has been a watershed year for the Irish population in terms of coping with job losses, pay cuts, and increased taxes, and we still have some of the toughest financial challenges ahead."
He advised people to seek a loan from their local credit union rather than using a credit card or borrowing from money lenders.
Almost half of adults will dip into their savings to fund the festive celebrations, while just five out of 10 save specifically for Christmas.
Worries about money are set to intrude on the enjoyment of Christmas for around a quarter of those surveyed.
Women are more likely to be concerned about the cost than men.
Money worries are also set to feature for the younger age group, with a third of those aged between 25 and 34 set to let financial worries prevent them enjoying Christmas.