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Millions worry about Christmas debt: tips to keep your spending in check

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Five million Britons suffer from money worries and stress in the run up to Christmas, and one in three adults will put presents on credit card this year.

The average British household expects to spend £726 on presents, parties, food, gifts and decorations this Christmas.  For UK households as a whole – that equates to £20.3bn, finds new research by GoCompare Money.

Many will be using credit cards to foot the bill. When used correctly, there are many benefits of doing so, such as racking up air miles and cash back from rewards cards. But remember, spending on credit must be carefully planned otherwise you could be left with a festive financial hangover well into 2017.

Nearly 1 in 7 Britons (14%) worry about money every day in run-up to Christmas, and 37% are putting Christmas costs on credit this year, according to the charity Money Advice Trust. Its National Debtline is launching a #peaceofmind social media campaign to help those worried about debt in the run-up to Christmas.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “Money worries can affect people at any time of the year, but with the pressure to spend even greater at Christmas, this can cause even more stress. The fact that more people are worrying about money and feeling their debts are a heavy burden is a particular concern…Even if you just make a start to deal with the problem, this could make a huge difference in giving you some peace of mind this Christmas.”

What steps can you take to avoid a financial hangover in the New Year?

Five Christmas money tips from National Debtline

1) Set your festive budget

Setting a festive budget is probably the single most useful step you can take to manage your Christmas spending – but fewer than one in three of us do this. Make a list of who you need to buy presents for, set a budget for each and stick to it.  Plan ahead when it comes to your other shopping too, for example on food, decorations, and visiting family and friends.

2) Keep paying bills

Don’t forget you still need to pay your normal household bills in December, such as mortgage, rent, council tax, gas and electricity.  If you get paid earlier than usual in December, consider paying these bills straight away, so you know what is left is what you have to spend on your Christmas shopping.

3) Shop around for deals

There are lots of good deals around, even at Christmas. You could leave buying your presents until later in the month as sales often start early.  You could also consider using price comparison websites if you are buying a bigger gift.  Whatever you do, make sure you shop around and get the best price.

4) Resist the urge to borrow more

It can be extremely tempting to borrow money to pay for Christmas costs, but as always with borrowing, you have consider whether you can afford to pay it back.  If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and create a household budget to make sure you the repayments won’t leave you in difficulty.

5) Seek free advice

None of us really want to think about personal finances in the run up to Christmas, especially where debt problems are involved.  However if you are worried about money or debt, seek advice from a charity-run service like National Debtline as soon as possible.  The earlier you seek free advice, the sooner you can worry less about your money situation.

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