LAT­EST FI­NAN­CIAL NEWS

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS -

Peo­pleare be­ing tipped into debt by fes­tive spend­ing – which they could spend much of 2019 try­ing to pay off when bills thud on to door­mats.

Re­search from the Money Ad­vice Trust char­ity sug­gests more than a third (37%) of peo­ple put Christ­mas on credit, and 13% of peo­ple say they reg­u­larly worry about money in the run-up to De­cem­ber 25.

Debt-help bodies of­ten see a surge in cries for sup­port around the start of a new year.

But there are steps you could po­ten­tially take now, to help lessen the chances of a post-Christ­mas debt hang­over. Here are some tips from the StepChange Debt Char­ity...

Set a bud­get and stick to it

It can be dif­fi­cult to re­sist falling into the “gen­eros­ity trap”, spend­ing money we can’t re­ally af­ford be­cause we want to treat our loved ones to spe­cial presents, food, fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions and the whole works.

But think of it a dif­fer­ent way – by set­ting an af­ford­able bud­get and stick­ing to it, there’s more chance of be­ing able to af­ford the lit­tle treats that can sat­isfy our gen­eros­ity urges for loved ones through­out the year ahead as well, rather than find­ing the new year has to be all about belt-tight­en­ing to pay for the af­ter­math of Christ­mas.

Don’t for­get to in­clude hid­den costs

Bud­get­ing for things like the cost of travel to get to wher­ever you’re go­ing at Christ­mas, the cost of join­ing in the work Christ­mas do, con­tri­bu­tions to Christ­mas ac­tiv­i­ties that chil­dren might be in­volved in at school, or the Se­cret Santa, are eas­ily over­looked.

Be­fore you know it, they’ve blown your bud­get. So try to sit down and make a plan of ev­ery­thing you need to fac­tor in – not just the cost of food and presents.

If some­thing has to give, then at least you have a chance to think about which area of spend­ing you’re most pre­pared to cut back on.

Be­ware pres­sure to “pay later”

Mak­ing good me­mories (or even good presents!) doesn’t have to be about spend­ing lots of money. Your chil­dren’s home-made Christ­mas bis­cuits may be just as wel­come (and more fun).

For the items you do buy, think about the con­se­quences of “putting it on plas­tic”. It’s still real money in the end. Your friends and fam­ily wouldn’t want you to get into dif­fi­culty for the sake of buy­ing them stuff.

Plan ahead

Al­though there’s not long to go un­til Christ­mas, you can still plan the load a bit. That can help you spread (or even re­duce) costs. If you have a freezer, mak­ing food you might oth­er­wise buy can prove cheaper than buy­ing ready­made ver­sions. Look­ing fur­ther ahead, if you start a sav­ings plan from Jan­uary to save up all year for the fol­low­ing Christ­mas may mean a bor­row­ing-free Christ­mas a year from now.

Don’t panic

Go back to ba­sics and make sure you draw up a bud­get that will get you back on track. If that isn’t enough to solve the prob­lem, then one of the rep­utable free debt ad­vice char­i­ties will help you. The sooner you tackle any debt is­sue, the bet­ter.

For fur­ther free ad­vice and sup­port, visit stepchange.org.

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