As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on meeting the costs of Christmas.
I’m dreading Christmas this year because we are really struggling to pay the bills and there’s no cash to spare for cards, presents and so on. What can I do?
Follow our key tips to help stretch your budget and make sure you have enough money to pay your bills in the New Year:
- Plan ahead. Work out how much you can realistically afford before you start spending, taking into account what you need to keep back for your essential bills like rent or mortgage, council tax, gas and electricity.
- Set a limit on how much you are going to spend and stick to it.
- Remember that Christmas is an expensive time of year for everyone. With some close friends and adults in the family you may be able to make a ‘no presents’ pact. Or agree to exchange only token gifts with a fixed limit on what you spend, perhaps using local charity shops.
- Try shopping with cash only – that way you can’t spend more than your budget.
- Shop around, you may find it cheaper elsewhere, including on-line
- Try not to feel pressurised by children into buying expensive toys or other items you can’t afford. Explain the situation to them.
- Don’t run up an overdraft unless you have an arrangement with your bank – the interest you have to pay will be punitive.
- Get advice as early as possible if you do run into debt problems. Don’t ignore them and hope they’ll go away – they won’t.
If you shop on-line, consider signing up to the online fundraising portal TheGivingMachine that enables internet shoppers to help the local community at no extra cost to themselves. Simply go to www.thegivingmachine.co.uk then join and select Citizens Advice Exeter as one of your beneficiaries. You can then shop via TheGivingMachine and support our charity.
For more information and advice about how to deal with money problems, go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Look out for our column next week when we focus on parking fines.
The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk