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Thursday 22 March 2018

Communions now less of a holy show as families slash budgets by 25pc

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

PARENTS have drastically cut back spending on First Holy Communions.

Some 60,000 children marked the occasion last month with most holding a family celebration.

But the average outlay by families has fallen from €1,000 last year to just under €744 this year -- a 25pc drop.

First Holy Communions are traditionally one of the big financial blow-outs for families.

Personal finance experts had previously said expenditure on the big day appeared to be immune to the downturn -- but this appears to have now changed. Food and drink for a party account for the largest portion of spending -- at €300 -- according to research commissioned by Ulster Bank.

Meanwhile, suits, white dresses and accessories such as medals and headgear, cost €179.

Families also run up a €176 bill on clothing for the rest of the family. And entertainment set back the average family with a communicant some €86.

The day is still a money-spinner for children, but the amount collected from family, friends and neighbours has also decreased.

Boys and girls got cash gifts totalling €432 this year, down from €468. Most of this is saved, but just over €100 is spent on video games, clothes, toys, sports equipment, books and music.

The majority of parents set their children a good example as eight out of 10 of them draw on savings to pay for the Communion celebrations.

However, around one in 10 is forced to borrow money for the occasion, with the average loan totalling €343.

And a small number needed financial help from family and friends.

Before the recession hit it was not unusual for parents to hire limousines and bouncy castles, and splash out on expensive dresses, suits, make-up and spray tans.

But the era of helicopter trips and chauffeur-driven cars to the church appears to have gone out with the demise of the Celtic Tiger.

Meanwhile, Ulster Bank claims it is an exciting time for children making their first Communion as in many cases it is the first time the eight and nine-year-olds will have an experience of spending and saving.

Joe Heneghan of Ulster Bank said: "It is more important than ever that young people learn to save and it will help equip them to deal with financial decisions in a responsible way throughout their lives."

Irish Independent

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