1. Check how much money you have
- Look at what you will get paid before Christmas and any savings you have.
- Then look at what you need to spend on bills, rent, council tax and any other commitments you have.
- Also take in account money for food and travel.
- Anything that is left should be what you have to spend on Christmas. Even if it's not much, it's better to give presents that don't cost an arm and a leg than get yourself into debt.
Top tip: if you are on Universal Credit and you get an early Christmas pay or much more than you usually get, you will need to set aside money to support you over the festive period as you might end up not getting your benefit as you earned too much in that assessment period.
2. Don't take high-cost loans or pay-day loans
- It can be tempting when you are desperate for some extra cash, but you will only end up worse off in the long run.
- Always look for low-cost loans or review what you plan to spend and see if you can cut down the costs.
- You can join a credit union and get a low-cost loan or ask your bank what they offer.
Top tip: you can also improve your credit rating to help you get better value loans in future
3. Make sure you have a money cushion
- Don't be tempted to spend all your money on Christmas presents. If the winter is harsh, you may need to spend money on an unexpected bill, such as getting your boiler repaired or your car breaking down.
- It's better to keep some of your money aside just in case which will save you having to take out an emergency loan or going into overdraft.
- If you are on Universal Credit, you will also need to watch out for receiving an early Christmas pay or more money than usual which means your earnings are too high and your benefit is stopped. That will mean you won't get a pay until the following month.
Top tip: check with your employer about when you will be getting paid and if it is more money than usual.
4. Commit to a Christmas savings plan in January
- Even if you need to take out a loan to pay for Christmas, start on the right foot next year by setting up a Christmas savings account.
- Mark a date in your diary to look at how much you need to pay out and what's left for savings and then start putting it away each month.
- If you set up a standing order, you can transfer money into your savings account as soon as you get paid, meaning you are less likely to spend it.
Top tip: check out My Credit Union Renfrewshire to see what Christmas savings accounts are available.
For more information and related links go to http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/8304/Money-tips-to-make-Christmas-easier