Citizens Advice South Lincolnshire gives advice on how to avoid debt this Christmas

Every month, Citizens Advice South Lincolnshire answers your questions.

The question is: I feel like everything is getting more and more expensive and with Christmas approaching I’m really worried about how I’m going to handle it. My partner and I would love to look after our children, but we would like to avoid huge debts. Do you have any advice?

And the response from Citizens Advice?

Present under the tree. Photo: istock

Christmas can be expensive for many of us and we know that many people are already struggling this year. There can be a lot of pressure to spend more than you can afford, so here are some key things to remember as 2022 approaches.

Be realistic and budget accordingly

Figure out how much you can afford to spend – and stick with it. There’s nothing wrong with managing expectations and suggesting things like spending limits, secret Santas, or maybe even that you don’t need to exchange gifts.

Don’t forget everyday bills

Remember that rent or mortgage, utility bills, food bills, and other existing debts still need to be paid – the consequences can be serious if they aren’t. Even if it’s Christmas, it’s not worth starting the New Year late on your bills.

Advice for citizens South Lincolnshire
Advice for citizens South Lincolnshire

Tempted to buy now pay later (BNPL)?

While it can be tempting to split payments, make sure you have a plan to repay the money, especially if your circumstances or income should change. If you use BNPL repeatedly or use multiple BNPL options, make sure you know how much you owe in total. Make sure you understand what you are signing up for, how you will be making the refunds, and what will happen if you can’t pay on time.

Buy securely to be safe

Whatever the transaction, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unauthorized merchants or borrow from unauthorized lenders. These could expose you to unscrupulous collection methods including threats and damages, dangerous products, and surprisingly high interest rates. You may also not be protected by the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Compare the prices

Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want, not what others say you need. Beware of extended warranties; the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty.

If you would like more information or advice on this matter, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call Adviceline on 0808 278 7996 to speak to a qualified advisor. We’re here to help you find a way forward.

Every Friday we organize a visit to St George’s Cafe, St George’s Church, St George’s Square, Stamford PE9 2BN (10am to noon).

Walk-in visits are for initial 15-minute assessments (referrals for a full appointment will be made if necessary).

About Vicki Davis

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