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Think it out before borrowing for Christmas: MABS

By Susan Gately - 13 December, 2014

MABs urges purchasers to think before getting into debt while Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) advises against moneylenders.

toy displayRoughly 51% of  people in Ireland borrow to pay for Christmas according to a recent report by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Of these, there are more women than men getting into debt to cover Christmas costs, and about 6% have approached a moneylender.

The ILCU Christmas spending survey 2014, estimates that on average people in Ireland will spend €600 this Christmas, €180 on ‘Santa’ presents.

Generally it will take consumers 8½ weeks to recover from over-spending with women taking longer than men to recover financially.

Ireland’s Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) advises that if a person has not saved for Christmas, has no spare cash to meet the extra spending and is thinking about borrowing, they should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What do I need to purchase as opposed to what do I want for myself and my family for Christmas?
  • How much will it all cost and can I afford it?
  • How long will it take to pay it back – as a rule the longer it takes the more costly it is?
  • Where will I borrow the money from – bank, credit union, credit card, moneylender?
  • Will I have money to pay for January bills as well as repaying this new loan?
  • What if I have nowhere to go to get money for Christmas?

Mabs logoIf a person is on a low income and feels it is necessary to borrow, they appeal to him or her to talk to a representative from MABS first on how to manage their money at this expensive time of year.

An advisor from MABS told CatholicIreland.net, that many people do not however approach the agency in the run up to Christmas.

“The reality is that because people need  or want to spend money, the last thing they want to hear is to hold off.”

He said that what often occurs is that people in low income families, will spend the money they need to pay for utilities – the ESB or gas, on Christmas, but then they get a double bill, and face the threat of disconnection when they can’t pay it.

MABS works with the utility companies, advocating on behalf of these people.

“We are trying to put in a protocol that people who are vulnerable and really need electricity will not be cut off – for example someone relying on a nebuliser.”

MABS is a free, confidential service for people in debt, or in danger of getting into debt. It has 60 offices nationwide with a helpline  (0761 07 2000) that operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm.

The organisation is funded  and supported by the Citizens Information Board.

The agency helps clients to draw up realistic budgets and maximise their incomes and also advises about dealing with debt. They do not give out money.

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