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I have been where you are, thinking that I will sort my finances after Christmas and enjoy Christmas first! The reality is that by thinking in this way we actually just give ourselves a stressful Christmas. Instead making a few changes now could take away some of those stresses and ensure you have a lovely Christmas without so much worry about debt. Please note these are just my ideas to reduce financial stresses before Christmas and does not replace financial advice. Independent financial advice can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Assess your debts and finances
The first thing you need to do is to stop burying your head in the sand. Get yourself a notepad and pen and your bank app on your phone and start listing all your incoming and outgoings.
At this point, you need to be really honest and realistic with yourself. There is no point at all in pretending here you spend £10 a week on food when you spend £200!
Do you pay for subscriptions such as Sky, Netflix etc? Make sure you put those on your list! Later you will be able to look at where you can reduce costs but in the meantime, you need to just pop them on this list.
Work out your budget for Christmas
Now everything is written down you need to also consider Christmas and how much you need to spend on presents, food etc. If you are struggling for money this is a great point to ask family and friends to skip buying for each other this year, or to agree to give something handmade instead! This is a great way to reduce financial stresses before Christmas as you have less gifts to buy.
There are so many ways you can save money on Christmas gifts that planning ahead is key. If you are buying perfume then watch out for the one you want being on offer somewhere. Throughout October/November is when the best offers tend to be around.
If you want to make something different on a budget how about making a hamper? This is something I love to do as it is such a personal gift but also so cheap if you shop around.
Address your debts
Where do you pay money every month? Are some of these debts that you can address? First focus on utility bills, council tax and rent/mortgage because debts of those can cause serious issues moving forward and they are considered priority debts.
For other debts such as credit cards, store cards, overdrafts etc the first thing to consider is asking your debtors to reassess your debt and reduce the interest, extend the terms etc. Another option is a debt consolidation loan. This is where you get a loan that pays back all the other debts and you simply then pay the one debt off. Learn more about how these loans work and if they are suitable for you before taking this step as once your other debts have been paid off by the loan it isn’t possible to go back.
Consider borrowing money from family or friends. This is not often an option for many people but if it is an option for you then you should consider it. Alternatively, move your debts to a lower interest debt if one of your debts has a better interest rate than others can you use that to pay off others?
If you can address your debts now you are sure to have a much better Christmas than if you keep burying your head in the sand. Be honest with yourself about what you are spending and what you need to spend moving forward.
Remember that Christmas is just one day or even a few days, it shouldn’t affect your sleep and mental health for months so don’t get in debt to buy gifts people do not need. Reduce financial stresses before Christmas and you will have a lovely Christmas knowing things are already under control.
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