Lifeline: Pauline Nimmo on debt

Pauline Nimmo focuses on the issue of debt
Pauline Nimmo focuses on the issue of debt
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I AM a lone parent and I got into debt over Christmas getting my two teenagers presents.

We also had family over from Australia this year so I wanted to pull out all the stops for them. The trouble is I had an unexpected bill come in and am now unable to see us through the rest of the month. I can borrow from my brother but am so embarrassed to admit to anyone the mess I’m in. I thought about applying for a loan on the internet. Should I do this?

The pressure of Christmas can be hard on people and the temptation to spend excessively can be great. The reality is the aftermath, which is what you are facing now. I can understand you don’t want other family members to know you are struggling financially but loans obtained over the internet can be a tricky step to take as the interest can be very high and you may find yourself spiralling into more debt.

It’s maybe better to swallow your pride and approach your brother as I would imagine you will be able to pay him back interest free. And it’s possible you won’t have to go into too much detail – just say you are short this month.

I assume your Australian visitors are not an annual occurrence so this will not be an issue next year. Try spreading out your present buying throughout the year or open a small savings account to cover Christmas. 
It doesn’t have to be large amounts 
as I appreciate you are a lone parent and teenagers don’t come cheap. It may also be worth having a chat 
with them just to let them know 
there may be limits at times. Good luck in sorting it all out.


My wife and I have had our annual January fall-out because she has spent so much money over Christmas and New Year. She does love Christmas and looks forward to it all year. I don’t really understand. She says I’m a hypocrite because I book expensive holidays and she doesn’t see why we have to go abroad for two whole weeks. I say we save most of the year for two weeks in the sun but Christmas is just one day. Who’s right and who’s wrong here and how can we sort it?

There may not necessarily be a right or wrong here, just a difference of opinion. It may be about compromise for you both and an acknowledgement of what is important to the other person. You obviously look forward to your two weeks’ holiday and have a plan for paying, but the preparation and excitement over the festive period can also last a while and that may be what your wife enjoys and looks forward to. While you are saving for your summer holiday, why not include a plan for Christmas spending as well?

Although you may not understand or enjoy what your wife does, it’s how you help and support her that matters. If you make an effort to accept her Christmas time, she may become more accepting of your holiday time.

Twitter: @relscot

• Pauline Nimmo is a child contact centre manager with Relationships Scotland

If you are affected by any of the issues in Lifelines and require further advice, contact

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