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Managing your money at Christmas

Plan early for Christmas

Be realistic and plan your budget. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person –and stick to it.

Don’t forget the everyday bills

Remember that rent, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid. Even though it’s Christmas, make sure you pay your bills and debts first.

Don’t bank on an overdraft

If you do need more money, don’t just run up an overdraft. Talk to your bank first who may be able to offer you a better option.

Keep things simple

If you can afford to pay for your goods outright by cash, cheque, or debit card, don’t be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements unless they really do work out cheaper.

Shop around

Always look around the shops and online for the best price. Don’t be fooled into buying extended warranties as the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty itself.

Buy safe to be safe

Whatever the deal don’t buy or borrow from unauthorised traders and lenders. The initial savings and convenience may prove to be a false economy in the long run.

Read the small print

Check for hidden extras in any credit agreement. Work out the total amount payable, making sure the monthly instalments are within your budget before signing. Interest free credit can seem attractive, but if you don’t pay on time or miss a payment, you could have to pay a lot more.

Do your own credit checks

If you are going to use a credit card, shop around and compare terms and conditions. Some cards charge high interest rates, but provide interest free periods or discounts. Budget for all these costs and put the payment dates in your diary.

Be organised

There’s a lot to remember at Christmas. If you’ve borrowed money don’t forget that it won’t be long before you have to make a payment. Make sure you pay on time, even if it is only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges.

Start planning and saving for next Christmas

Although it might be the last thing on your mind, once Christmas is over, it’s worth looking ahead. It could even be a good time to start saving for next Christmas!

  • A local Credit Union can sometimes offer loans at lower rates of interest as well as encourage you to save for the future and many offer Christmas Saving schemes. You can check to find one in your local area.
  • The Money Advice Service has a useful Christmas money planner on its website to help you work out how much you can afford to spend, you can also find other guides to help you improve your finances

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