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Christmas is a time of giving but it’s easy to go overboard and overspend, resulting in bills and debts you might not be able to afford. Last January, Hillcrest carried out 740 arrears actions because tenants did not pay enough to their rent in December, resulting in some facing court action or eviction.
Our saving tips below could help you stay on top of your finances this Christmas.
Rent is a priority payment and your home is more important than a gift. Keep paying your rent during December and contact a member of the Income Management Team on 0300 123 2640 if you are unable to pay.
Our Tenancy Sustainment Team can assist you with benefits and income maximisation. Our Energy Advice Team can help with energy debt, top-ups and switching to a cheaper supplier. Call us on 0300 123 2640, we’re here to assist.
Be realistic about what you can spend on each person and on food and drink. Remember that paying your rent should remain a priority, and that your other bills like energy, council tax, food and other debts still need to be paid. The consequences could be serious if they are not.
Speak openly with your family and friends about setting a limit on Christmas spending. You’d be surprised how many others will be feeling the same and will be glad to set a limit on how much you spend on each other.
If you can afford to pay for your goods outright by paying cash or by debit card, don’t be persuaded to take out credit or store cards unless they really do work out cheaper.
Keep a running list of expenses and compare it frequently to your budget. If you find yourself exceeding your budget, put on the brakes and reassess what purchases are essential. Watch out for bank or overdraft charges and make sure you have enough money in your account to cover direct debits and standing orders, otherwise you might pay the penalty.
When was the last time you had a clear out? Some unwanted items might have the potential to make you some money so consider using online selling sites like eBay or Gumtree, or getting yourself along to a car boot sale. Turn your unwanted clothes, jewellery and electricals into cash and earn yourself a bit of Christmas spending.
Many shops take on extra staff on short term contracts during November and December for the busy festive period and some offer staff discount to employees. Remember this could impact on your tax and any benefits you receive.
Avoid doorstop lenders or companies promising the earth that charge huge interest rates. Unless these are paid off in full at the end of the month, they will cost you a massive amount in added interest charges. Work out the total amount payable and make sure your monthly payments are affordable for your budget. Interest free credit can seem attractive, but if you don’t pay on time or miss a payment, you could have to pay a lot more.
There’s lots to remember at Christmas and if you’ve borrowed money, it won’t be long before the payment is due. Make sure you pay on time even if it’s only the minimum amount, or you could be charged extra for late payment.
Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Use comparison websites, online shopping deals and coupons. Beware of extended warranties, sometimes the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty.
This is one of the smartest things you can do to ensure a financially stress free Christmas. The earlier you start to save by checking your budget in the months leading up to Christmas, the less stressful it will be. And if you see the perfect gift in the summer sales, don’t hesitate. Planning and buying in advance will save you last minute worry.