Avoiding festive debt hangover

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PEOPLE are being reminded of the importance of keeping a check on their festive finances this Christmas.

Help is on hand to ensure residents avoid a Christmas debt hangover, and 10 top tips have been made available to ensure people keep their spending in check.

Staff from Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau are warning people to spend what they can realistically afford, and to seek help as soon as possible if they do find themselves in a financial struggle.

The CAB has produced a leaflet, available around the town, with 10 top tips to make sure people don’t come out of the festive season in the red.

The top tips for spending this Christmas are:

l Plan early for Christmas. People should be realistic and budget accordingly. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person and stick to it.

l Don’t forget the everyday bills. Rent, mortgage, utility and food bills still have to be paid.

l Don’t bank on an overdraft. If you do need more money don’t just run up an overdraft without talking to the bank first.

l Keep things simple. Don’t be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements, unless they really do work out cheaper.

l Shop around. Try as many different places as possible and be wary of extended warranties.

l Buy safe to be safe. Don’t, under any circumstances, buy from unauthorised traders or borrow from unauthorised lenders.

l Read the small print. Check for any hidden extras and work out the total amount payable.

l Do your own credit checks. When using a credit card shop around and compare terms.

l Be organised. If you have had to borrow money make sure you pay it back on time. Additional charges may prove hefty.

l Start planning and saving for next Christmas. Once Christmas is over look back at what you did well and any mistakes made.

Joe Michna, Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau manager, said: “We all want to have the best possible Christmas and to do that it’s important to make sure you’re aware of what you’re spending and how to be more savvy when you shop.

“It is very tempting at this time of year to spend more than you can realistically afford.”

If people do get into financial difficulties they are urged to seek advice as soon as possible.

The Hartlepool CAB office, in Hartlepool’s Park Road is open five days a week for people who want to take advantage of their debt advice service.

Alternatively people should log online and visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/fsfl_projects_toptipschristmas.htm or www.adviceguide.org.uk.

l Here to help: Page 13