THE financial strain of Christmas can have a lasting impact on many families, volunteers at the Stroud Valleys Credit Union are urging for people to start saving now.

A survey from YouGov showed that a typical family spends £796 at Christmas, which for many people is often more than a pay packet.

Volunteers at the Stroud Valleys Credit Union say that this can cause people to fall behind with household bills in the short term as a direct result of Christmas costs.

One in 20 Britons – an estimated 2.3 million people – miss, or expect to miss, a payment on everyday household bills in order to fund Christmas spending.

This includes falling behind with ‘priority debts’ including rent, council tax and energy bills.

“As well as paying the higher interest rates of the big financial institutions for loans, some people resort to payday lenders and loan sharks so having to pay hugely inflated interest rates which perpetuate the cycles of debt,” a spokesman for the Stroud Valleys Credit Union said.

“By starting to put aside money each month from now until Christmas, they’ll be able to amass a sum which will contribute towards the costs and ease their money worries come the New Year.

“In addition, anyone who has a savings account can apply for a loan with an interest rate competitive with those offered by the big financial institutions and lower than those charged by payday lenders.

“This is in case they need some extra help to cope with buying presents, food and the many other trimmings.”

The credit union has branches throughout Stroud district including The Shambles, the Chipping Club Room in Wotton, Berkeley Town Hall and The Arkell Community Centre in Forest Green.

These are all run be trained volunteers from the area, their aim is to help keep money within the community and offer an alternative to larger financial institutions.