The lights are up, the Bublé album has been dusted off, and the festivities have begun. The gift of giving is a big part of Christmas, but according to a new survey conducted by StepChange Debt Charity, the increasing pressure to spend beyond our means is making it a difficult time for many, with nearly 7 in 10 unable to comfortably afford Christmas and 36 percent of 16-34 year olds expecting to borrow during this festive season.
We’re all familiar with the ever-growing pressures of social media and our finances are the latest victim. From November onwards, we're inundated with Christmas promotions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; social networks turned marketplaces full of ‘unmissable’ offers.
It may come as no surprise that those particularly affected include millennials (aged 25-34) with nearly half expected to use credit to pay for Christmas this year and 28% not expecting to pay it back until after summer 2020.
These ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes are particularly powerful when influencing the so called ‘Generation Z’ (16-24 year olds); a demographic easily enticed into the world of accessible credit, in part thanks to the pervasive documentation of spending habits of friends and influencers on sites such as Instagram and TikTok.
With the ease at which we can ‘curate’ our online identities, social media is fuelling a culture of disposability and materialism, creating a golden opportunity for ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes to spiral into a dangerously profitable industry.
To highlight the severity of this issue, this Christmas will see a quarter of the adult UK population use a ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme, with a third of those under 35 planning to use one. The digital era has seen the introduction of a multitude of technologies which can cater to our individual wants and needs, but these aren’t always to our advantage.
Marketing tools such as ‘cookies’ allow brands to flaunt items we want to buy but may be unable to afford. It’s unsurprising therefore, that when shown Christmas images on various platforms, a significant proportion of ‘Generation z’ reported feeling less fortunate (23%), under pressure (20%) and depressed (13%).
This extensive survey was conducted by Stepchange and has calculated that this younger generation will take ‘6 -7 months to pay back Christmas debts.’ Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange, highlights ‘anyone worried about debt can get free, confidential help from reputable debt charities like us - and we also offer lots of useful tips online on how to have a cheaper Christmas, useful for anyone looking to have a great Christmas on a budget.’
Free debt advice is available online, 24/7, even at Christmas, at the StepChange website.
For more on buy now pay later schemes and Christmas money-saving tips,
head over to the Go Fund Yourself Instagram.