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Top 12 tips to keep Christmas debt free

Even the most sensible of us are tempted to spend a bit extra at Christmas, but splashing out in December may have consequences far into 2014.

The real cost of yuletide celebrations may only become apparent in January, when other bills need paying and the knock-on effect could still be felt next Christmas.

These are Lincoln and District Citizens Advice Bureau’s 12 steps to avoid debt this festive season:

  1. Agree with family and friends not to give presents. or give a gift that costs no money, such as agreeing to walk a friend’s dog
  2. If you are buying presents, agree how much you’ll spend and think stick to that budget
  3. Take a list with you when you shop, and don’t be tempted by other offers
  4. Shop around to find the cheapest price for what you’re looking for. Use a site that compares prices of goods online, known as ‘shopbot’ sites
  5. Don’t forget to pay other important bills – rent or mortgage, council tax, utility bills, food and existing debts
  6. If you can’t manage without an overdraft, speak to your bank before you get one – it’ll cost you more if you don’t. Avoid payday loans — you’ll end up paying much more than you borrowed
  7. If you borrow money make sure you pay the minimum back on time to avoid further charges
  8. Pay for goods outright with cash or a debit card, and don’t be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements
  9. If you do take out a credit agreement, read the small print to work out how much you’ll be paying in total. Make sure you can afford the monthly repayments before signing
  10. If you’re going to use a credit card, shop around to take advantage of interest-free periods or discounts. Budget for any money you spend and put dates in your diary to pay
  11. Beware of extended warranties – the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of a warranty
  12. Buy from reputable traders – if you don’t, the savings may be a false economy if goods turn out to be unsafe

If you do over-indulge, get help straight away from Adviceguide.org.uk or Lincolncab.org.uk.