Tips on how to budget for the festive season

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), which have offices all over the country, including Cork, have some advice for people in the run up to Christmas ,writes Ursula Collins, the Regional Manager, of South Munster MABS
Tips on how to budget for the festive season

"No-one has been left untouched by this Pandemic – everyone has less money this year than last year." Picture: Stock.

TRADITIONALLY, Christmas is a festive season and many people would be planning their celebration over the coming weeks. This year is particularly challenging given the effects in the world due to Coronavirus.

When we struggle all year round, with little cash to spare, we often feel we need to take a break at Christmas — we want our children and our loved ones to have the best. But that doesn’t mean spending a fortune — particularly a fortune you don’t have. Be open with your family — even Santa has been affected this year! Talk to your friends and extended family — do you need to exchange gifts at all? Or would you rather spend time together?

Here at MABS we are aware of the financial challenges many people are facing and we are here to support you and your family.

What is MABS?

MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, is the State’s only free money and debt advice service. We work with all kinds of people, who may have all kinds of personal debt. Our service is fully funded by the government, making it completely free to the public. The Service is independent, with no links to any banks or credit unions, and all your dealings with MABS will be confidential, in accordance with our confidentiality policy.

Where are we?

With more than sixty offices all around the country, we are available in every county.

You can contact your local office in:

Cork City – 0761 07 2090

Dunmanway – 0761 07 2450

Mallow – 0761 07 2440

Charleville – 0761 07 2420

Kerry – 0761 07 2190

We also have a website – and our Helpline can be contacted Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, on 0761 07 2000.

What do we do?

MABS works with people who may be struggling with debt or who need help in managing their money.

We also talk to government and lenders to find better solutions for those who have money problems, as well as developing tools and resources to help people avoid getting in over their heads. MABS does not give out any money – instead, we work with clients to ensure that they are getting all income they are entitled to, that they are getting the best value out of this income, and in working out sustainable payment plans with creditors, where debt becomes a problem. Some of the areas our money advisers work with clients with personal debts, includes:

Mortgage arrears

Personal loans

Utilities arrears

Credit card debt

Hire purchases

Rent arrears

Court fines

Catalogue debts

Sub-prime loans

Legal moneylenders

Who goes to MABS?

All kinds of people, from all walks of life, with all kinds of personal debt come to MABS. We cannot help with debt arising from a business, but will help business people in dealing with their personal debts.

We make no judgement on those who come to us – we know people can get into money difficulty all too easily – sometimes getting out needs a hand. That’s what we’re here for.


Abhaile is a Free scheme to help homeowners find a resolution to home mortgage arrears. It provides free expert financial and legal advice from qualified and regulated professionals, which are available through MABS or a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP).

The aim of Abhaile is to help mortgage holders in arrears to find the best solutions and keep them wherever possible, in their own homes. A dedicated mortgage arrears adviser will work with you and your lender to find the best solution for your situation.

Debt Relief Notices

A Debt Relief Notice (DRN) is for people who have less than €35,000 in qualifying debt, have very few assets and a low income. You can apply through MABS who will arrange a meeting for you with a MABS staff member called an Approved Intermediary. If your application is successful, you will be under certain obligations for three years. You don’t have to pay anything to your creditors if your circumstances haven’t changed. When those three years are over, your debts will be written off.


The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) wants to offer as much help and reassurance as possible with regard to people’s concerns around their finances.

The following are a few tips which may be of help to you and yours over the coming weeks:

1. Set a budget for Christmas and stick to it.

2. Make a list of what you need to buy for Christmas. Divide it into gifts, food, clothes and socializing.

3. Agree with family members to have a Secret Santa gift and cap it at an agreed price.

4. When shopping, look out for special deals or three for two offers in stores.

5. Work from a list keeps you focused and avoids unplanned and impulsive buying.

6. Help your children chose gifts from their Santa List.

7. If you have to borrow, limit this amount to as little as possible.

8. If using a credit card, switch to a 0% interest rate if possible.

No-one has been left untouched by this Pandemic – everyone has less money this year than last year; be the one to bring up the subject in your circle – suggest that this year, is the year to bring back more basic values. Take your time to be with those you love – and those you love will not want you to worry, and to struggle this Christmas or for the next six months to pay for the gifts they didn’t need.

Wishing you a peaceful, happy and safe Christmas from MABS.

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