Christmas debt advice

Giving the kids a great Christmas doesn't have to mean spiralling debts by New Year.

A Cheltenham based charity is telling people to only spend what they can afford.

Christians Against Charity have told Hearthalf the people they help got into massive debt by taking out a loan to pay for the big day, or spent more than they can afford to pay back on credit cards.

The charity have also issued ten top tips for a debt-free festive season:

Decide what you have to spend. Make a list and be realistic. Paying
in cash may help you keep control. Let your children see your careful
planning – you’ll be teaching them a valuable life-long lesson.

Manage expectations early. If things are tight don’t be afraid to say so
to family members. You’ll probably all be in the same boat and it may
lead to a happier Christmas for them too!

See if relatives will club together with you to buy children what they
would like, rather than individually over indulging them and all feeling
out of pocket.

Buy fewer presents but cheaper trimmings like paper chains and
crackers. They all add to the fun without costing very much.

Never take out a Christmas loan! Remember the possible
consequences could be disastrous for you and your family.

Give ironing or baby-sitting vouchers or make presents as opposed to
buying them. For example, delicious homemade biscuits, chocolates
and fudge make a lovely gift and show you've spent time and care.

Remember - you can't buy love. Don't feel guilty if you can't afford
the latest present for your children. Your love and affection will last
longer in the memory than any toy can.

Don't fall into the trap of reciprocal gift giving and don't buy out of

Don't overspend in the January sales, in spite of how good a bargain
you might see. Make a budget and stick to it and if possible, leave
those credit cards at home.

Enjoy all the low cost things on offer – the lights in town, get
togethers, making mince pies, playing family board games, seeing
your kids in the school nativity - and have a very Happy Christmas!

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