Staff at Cambrian Credit Union in North Wales pulled on their Christmas jumpers, set up the Christmas tree and handed out mince pies this week to celebrate International Credit Union Day on Friday.

The early festive cheer had a serious message after a survey by Credit Unions of Wales found that 84 per cent of people in Wales expect their finances to be stretched this Christmas, with one in three saying it will affect their ability

to pay essential household bills.

Ann Francis, General Manager said: “Dusting off our Christmas jumpers and putting up decorations in October raised some eyebrows, but we want people to stop and think about how they plan for their festive spending.

“The fact that a third of people already expect Christmas to make it difficult to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills is a real concern.

“Added to that nearly half of the people who responded to the survey said that they don’t budget for the festive season, which in turn can lead to overspending and a financial hangover in January.”

The Credit Unions of Wales survey found that the majority of people, 61 per cent, expected to spend between £500 and £2,000 this Christmas, with 11 per cent pushing the budget to more than £2,000.

While 62 percent had put away money to fund Christmas, 59 percent expected to take out some form of credit.

Ann Francis said: “The good news is that most people are saving, but for many it is still not enough to fund the Christmas shopping.

“Thirty-nine percent of those intending to borrow expected to use an overdraft, credit or store card or payday lender to help fund Christmas.

“As credit unions, we don’t believe credit is necessarily bad, but it does need to be manageable, so we would encourage people to compare interest rates, repayment amounts and the length of credit to make an informed decision and avoid

spiralling debt.

“Most of all, plan your Christmas spending and stick to a budget that is manageable for you.”