Citizens Advice South Lincolnshire gives advice on how to avoid getting into debt this Christmas
Every month, Citizens Advice South Lincolnshire answers your questions.
The question is: It feels like everything is getting more and more expensive and with Christmas coming up, I’m really worried about how I’ll manage. My partner and I would love to treat our kids but we’re keen to avoid huge debts. Do you have any advice?
And the answer from Citizens 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 as we head into 2022.
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.
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.
If you would like any more information or advice about this issue, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call Adviceline on 0808 278 7996 to speak to a trained adviser. We are here to help you find a way forward.
Every Friday, we run a drop-in at St George’s cafe, St George’s Church, St George’s Square, Stamford PE9 2BN (10am to midday).
Drop-ins are for 15-minute initial assessments (referrals for a full appointment will be made if needed).