The cost of living crisis is changing the face of Christmas with many families cutting back this year
Christmas is going to be different for many of us this year as the cost of living crisis continues to hit. One Plymouth student has been left with “zero” in his bank account and has been hit hard financially this year.
Isaac Poynter Chard says his grant he previously received to help with costs while studying outdoor adventure education at Marjon had been taken away, making money “increasingly tight”. The 20-year-old said his mother, who is a shop manager, and his father, a bricklayer, have not had their pay increased for two years either, making things “difficult”.
He has also seen his rent increase, meaning all of his student loan goes on those payments and food. As Isaac has no disposable income, he’s unable to pay for a train or bus home and this year he’ll be hitching a lift with another student to the Isle of Wight on Christmas Eve – but he’s unsure how he will get home.
The Marjon student said: “Normally I would go home on December 18 or 19. I’m now going back the day before Christmas Eve because I have to wait so I can go home with somebody who’s driving home, because I can’t pay for transport then it’ll be the same coming back because I can’t pay for public transport at all.
“It’s difficult it really, really is, especially when I’m trying to get a job. It’s a struggle it really is.”
Others are also feeling the pinch this year, with 54-year-old Lucy Ashford reducing her Christmas budget this year. The Saltash vineyard worker said she plans to use the energy rebate from the Government to buy gifts for her family.
She said: “I think I am definitely going to try and reduce [Christmas spending] this year, hopefully reduce it by a few of hundred pounds and now that my children are older I know I should.
“I think it is frivolous really spending a lot when it cost so much for fuel. So, the extra money I am getting back for my fuel rebate, I’m putting in a pot and that is going to be for Christmas.
“By December I will have three payments, so I will have £200 which I am going to try to stick to that for my Christmas presents. I don’t think I’ll do it but I’m going to try.”
Lauren Ven, a Psychology student at Marjon said her mother’s rent had increased, which has made things “difficult”. Their Christmas will be “low key”.
The 21-year-old said: “I live at home so my mum’s rent has gone up so it’s been a bit difficult. My Christmas is usually small anyway, but we’ll definitely keep it low key.”
Others plan to keep the costs down by cutting back on who they buy gifts for. One Liskeard resident said they planned to only buy gifts for children – and even then they will be “cheaper gifts”.
However, some people have always done this. One 50-year-old retail worker from Plymouth said they believe Christmas is “commercialised” in the UK and they first realised so when celebrating the holiday in Australia. Ever since they have only bought for children and adults get one gift each.
They said: “About 20 years ago I went to Australia with my kids and there it was much more low key and much more about family and less about buying people stuff. That was a real lesson for me, was really enjoyable, so when I came back, I said to the family, ‘let’s just buy presents for the kids, let’s not buy adult presents, let’s not do this anymore’.
“We stopped then and it really took the pressure off. My children are adults now, we exchange one gift, we don’t make a big deal about it.
“We cook dinner at home and have a family meal. So, in a way it’s not really affected me in the same way it may affect other people and I certainly understand that for people with young children it may be really hard this year.”
And people in the local area aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. A survey found that 41% of people are worried that their financial situation would crush their seasonal plans, with some thrifty brits finding other means to pay for the holidays.
Nearly half are buying pre-owned products for gifts this year with 31% of people saying that they will opt for a buy now pay later method or loans to fund their Christmas shopping.
What are your plans? Are you cutting back this year? Get in touch at email@example.com to let us know the changes you’re making.
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