A happy Christmas need not break the bank

The winning design by Lydia Petersen

Christmas card design by Lydia Petersen, Bishopbriggs Academy

Jo is encouraging East Dunbartonshire residents to consider ten top tips to avoid a Christmas debt hangover.

Jo is highlighting advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help people enjoy Christmas without getting into financial difficulty. The ten top tips are designed to help people make informed decisions when budgeting and choosing credit to help with the cost of Christmas.

A survey of East Dunbartonshire residents carried out by Jo last Christmas showed that most people were looking for ways to make their money go further, and that they would start saving earlier for Christmas this year.

Commenting, Jo said:

“We all love to celebrate and be generous at Christmas, and it is very easy to overspend at this time of year. Most people in East Dunbartonshire are very sensible when it comes to managing their money, but with the recession hitting people in the wallet it is all too easy to run into debt.

“These ten tips are simple reminder that it’s possible to have a merry Christmas without overstretching your budget.”

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s Ten Top Tips are:

1. Plan early for Christmas

Be realistic and budget accordingly. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person – and stick to it. Manage expectations as to what

you or Santa can give.

2. Don’t forget the everyday bills

Remember that rent, the mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid – and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Even though it’s Christmas, get your priorities right.

3. Don’t bank on an overdraft

If you do need more money, don’t just run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first – it will work out much more expensive.

4. 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.

5. Shop around

Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need. Be wary of extended warranties; the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty.

6. Buy safe to be safe

Whatever the deal, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unauthorised traders and don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. The initial savings and

convenience may prove to be a false economy.

7. Read the small print

Check for hidden extras in any credit agreement. Work out the total amount

payable. Ensure that 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 ave to pay a lot more.

8. Do your own credit checks

If you are going to use a credit card, shop around and compare terms. 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.

9. 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 payment. Make sure you

pay on time, even if it is only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges.

10. Start planning and saving for next Christmas

Once Christmas is over, it’s worth looking at what you did well and what you didn’t. Learn from your mistakes and start planning how you will do things differently next year. This might also be a good time to start saving for next Christmas.

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