Fight the Financial Fear

By Eric Hillis

Thanks to fears over our financial well-being, the holiday season can prove for many the most stressful time of year. Nobody wants to be seen as a scrooge and because of this we often indulge in spending we really can’t afford.

While you may have scrimped and saved throughout the year, the run-up to Christmas can make you feel like you’re plunging deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit of debt from which escape seems impossible. You might feel alone in your circumstances but, in these tough economic times, a large proportion of the Irish public shares your plight.

It may require a willingness to swallow your pride and admit the severity of your problems but help is accessible in the form of several organisations.

MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) provides a free advice service for those who are struggling with debt and general financial worries. They won’t give you a hand-out but they will provide you with the knowledge of how to better manage your budget and deal with your creditors. In recent years, the staff at MABS have seen an increase in clients from traditionally financially-secure backgrounds, as those who are new to money worries are often the least equipped to deal with them on their own.

Among the services provided by MABS is a budgeting tool that allows you to calculate your incomings and outgoings and work out a sensible budget to stick to.

If you have debts that you are simply unable to repay, MABS can assist you in applying for personal insolvency under the recently passed Personal Insolvency Act, which provides applicants with three options depending on the amount of debt owed and your personal circumstances.

MABS can be contacted online at or on their helpline, 0761 07 2000.

If you’re a small business owner who can’t afford the services of an accountant, an organisation called CAVA (Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice) exists to provide free advice on dealing with business-related financial issues. You can find CAVA online at

Information on tax and entitlements (medical card, rent supplement etc) is provided by the Citizens Information Board, who can be reached on 0761 07 4000 or online at CIB also man a dedicated Mortgage Arrears Helpline on 0761 07 4050.

The stress caused by financial worries can often have a negative impact on your mental health, causing many to spiral into depression. If you’ve been affected in this manner, the organisation AWARE exists to provide help and can be contacted at or on their helpline, 1890 303 302.

Should you find yourself living in poverty, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul provides a range of services, including hot meals, from their nationwide resource centres. You can call them on 01 838 6990 or visit to find your nearest centre.

You may feel a stigma when it comes to asking for help but remember you’re not alone and all the organisations mentioned will deal with you in a non-judgmental and confidential fashion.