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The secret to a Merry Christmas is avoiding a financial hangover

As the stores gear up for the festive spending season, Ann Francis of Cambrian Credit Union offers some timely tips to ensure you don’t end up with a painful financial headache in the New Year.

According to a recent study by TSB, Brits are planning to spend £427 this Christmas, however the bank says this is an under-estimate. The true cost, including travel, party costs and last minute present buying, in fact totals £773.

What’s more, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people surveyed anticipated that they may go into debt to cover costs this festive season.

Saving well in advance is the sensible way to prepare but with so little time left, many people opt for overdrafts, credit cards, pay-day loans or store cards, which can be hugely expensive to repay.

Time may not be on your side this year but there’s still a few simple rules to consider to help you enjoy Christmas without a financial hangover in the New Year:

  • Be honest about what you can afford – the run-up to Christmas can seem like a month of endless parties, be selective about which invitations you accept.
  • Why not agree a budget with friends for Secret Santa presents and ask close friends for a night in your home rather than painting the town red? Everyone bringing nibbles and drinks will save everyone money.
  • Always make a budget! Christmas may be the season of goodwill but don’t go overboard and get caught out with unexpected costs.  If you’re going away then plan your travel as fares can much cheaper if booked in advance.
  • Don’t go Christmas shopping without a list – and stick to it once you’ve compared prices online.
  • Take advantage of any vouchers or special offers – but only if the item is on your list! Don’t get sucked into buying more because it seems like a bargain.

At Cambrian Credit Union we gave launched a new Engage account, which comes with a pre-paid debit card. Best of all, it comes with cash-back or discounts on everyday purchases such as your weekly food shopping bill as well as big name retailers like Argos, Asda and Marks and Spencer. You will find more details on our website.

If you are low on savings and credit is the only option, then consider the interest charges as well as the repayment amounts. A common pitfall is to think a repayment is affordable, but you must check how many months you will be paying.

At Cambrian Credit Union we can offer loans from £50-£15000, and there’s an easy calculator to show how much repayments would be on our website. Make sure you look for credit options where the lenders are transparent and fair.

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