Surviving Christmas – Tips from MABS

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We know it is too early to talk about Christmas and most (probably not department stores though) will wait at least until after Halloween before daring to mention tinsel and toys, but the reality of the situation is that there is still not enough time to prepare financially.

As far as saving goes, it is never too early in the year to start putting by a little for the Christmas frivolities. MABS have put together some tips on getting through the festive season without bringing a sack full of debt through to the New Year.

The first trick is to get your hands on their Christmas planner and divide what you need to buy into lists under the headings of gifts, food, clothing and socialising, then prioritise according to what is most important. When you have estimated the total cost, decide if this is a reasonable figure (be honest with yourself) to achieve on the amount of income you have. If not, cut the least important things from the list.

The best advice is to try to save enough to cover this total figure throughout the year. However, this is not always possible. Your choices now are to cut spending again or borrow. When looking for a loan, avoid moneylenders and credit cards. Seek advice from MABS on loan options and make sure you understand what you are getting into before you sign.

If you do borrow, estimate how much you truly need and do not borrow any more. Pay back as quickly as possible and be aware of how the repayments will affect your finances next year.

When you are doing the shopping, be smart. Do not leave things until the last minute when you just have to grab anything that is available. Plan ahead so that you can bag the best offers. Three-for-two deals are good if you actually need the three items. Work from a list, leave the children at home and keep the receipts. Above all, be open with the family about the financial situation.

Christmas is about spending time with family, not spending your last penny to show how much you love them. I am guessing that your loved ones will not want you stressing for the rest of the year about paying for gifts they didn’t even need.

By Maria Shields O’Kelly