News item

Are you relying on credit this Christmas?

Christmas is a time of giving, but you don’t want to give yourself a headache in the New Year with bills and debts you can’t afford! 

According to the Money Advice Service (MAS), a million people will be forced to borrow using high-cost, short-term loans to cover the cost of Christmas this year and 32% of UK adults (approximately 16 million people) will pay for Christmas using credit cards.

Warwickshire’s Consumer Empowerment Partnership has some good advice for anyone wanting to avoid being faced with still paying for this Christmas, next Christmas!

1) Be realistic and budget accordingly. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person and stick to it. Manage expectations as to what you or Santa can give.

2) Don’t forget the everyday bills. Remember that rent, the mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid – and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Even though it’s Christmas, get your priorities right.

3) If you do borrow, check the APR. Payday loan companies, store credit and unauthorised overdrafts can be expensive ways to borrow money. Talk to your bank first and if you use a credit card, pay it off in full.

4) Shop around. Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. If you can, look online as prices can be cheaper and use the Internet to search for vouchers and offers redeemable in shops.

5) If you get into debt, don’t panic, there is free help and advice available. Contact the debt advice charity Step Change: freephone 0800 138 1111 or visit www.stepchange.org

6) Finally, it’s never too early to start saving for next Christmas. Why not put a small amount of money aside each week in an account that is earning interest? You could also save with a credit union, find out more here: www.cwcda.co.uk/credit-unions/local-credit-unions

Ends

'The Warwickshire Consumer Empowerment Partnership is a nationally funded pilot scheme led by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Warwickshire Citizens Advice Bureau. 

The aim of the partnership is to develop an integrated consumer advice, education, protection, empowerment and advocacy body, providing consumers with stronger voice. 

There is a local CEP group in each district/borough of Warwickshire see www.consumerguardian.org.uk  for further information

For more information, please contact Simon Cripwell, Trading Standards Officer on 01926 414039 or 07771 975570

DATE: 9 December 2013