Managing your money at Christmas

It feels like everything is getting more and more
expensive and with Christmas coming up, I’m really worried about how I’ll

My partner and I would love to treat our kids but we’re keen to avoid
huge debts.

Do you have any advice?

Christmas can be costly for many of us and we know lots of people are struggling
already this year. There can be a lot of pressure to spend more than you can afford,
so here are a few key things to remember.

Be realistic and budget accordingly
Work out how much you can afford to spend – and stick to it. There’s nothing wrong
with managing expectations, and suggesting things such as spending limits, secret
Santas or maybe even that you don’t need to swap gifts.

Don’t forget the everyday bills
Remember that the rent or mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts
still have to be paid – the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Even though
it’s Christmas, it’s not worth starting the New Year being behind on your bills.

Tempted by Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)?
While it can be tempting to split payments, make sure you have a plan for how to pay
the money back – particularly if your circumstances or income were to change. If
you’re using BNPL repeatedly or using multiple BNPL options, make sure you know
how much you owe in total. Make sure you understand what you’re signing up for,
how you’ll make the repayments and what will happen if you can’t pay on time.

Buy safe to be safe
Whatever the deal, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unauthorised traders
and don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. These could put you at risk of
unscrupulous collection methods – including threats and harm, unsafe products and
unexpectedly high interest rates. You may also not be protected by Financial
Conduct Authority rules.

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.

Get help if you’re struggling
If you’re worried about paying the bills, get free, independent advice as soon as
possible. There’s lots of information on the Citizens Advice website and you can call
South Lakes Citizens Advice on 015394 46464 where an adviser will be able to
help you understand your options and come up with a plan.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens
Advice on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing,
employment or any other problems.
South Lakes Citizens Advice, your local charity, is here for you.
How to access:
 Call 015394 46464 – this is being staffed from 9:30 – 2pm
 Adviceline: 0808 2787 984
 email advice via our submission page on our website
 Help to Claim (Universal Support): 0800 144 8 444