Tis The Season To Be Thrifty...!

It's easy to get carried away with festive cheer - and I don't just mean at your work Christmas party.
 
We tend to spend a lot more on going out around Christmas and New Year.
 
And on top of that, most of us have to buy presents for our loved ones - not to mention splash out on a family feast.
 
So it's hardly surprising that many people overspend at this time of year...
 
But while overindulging in alcohol and chocolates can make you feel ill, allowing your costs to spiral out of control could leave you with a much longer lasting Christmas debt hangover.
 
Figures from Payplan show that almost half of all Britons started 2014 in the red because of festive overspending.
 
So follow our top tips to avoid your debts building up and making 2015 tougher than it needs to be...
 
Save, save, save
Prevention is better than cure. Or in other words, saving up for Christmas is the best way to prevent your balance slipping below zero. And the earlier you start saving for the festive season, the easier it is to build up the savings pot you need.
 
But don't despair if you have no cash put aside. There are still two paydays left between now and Christmas. So put any spare money in a savings account paying as high a rate of interest as you can find and build up your festive spending fund.
 
Set a budget - and stick to it!
Sit down and work out how much you can afford to spend during the festive season well before it starts. That way, you will know exactly how much you can spend on each present or night out and split your cash accordingly. You will have to be strict about sticking to the budget you set though - or risk breaking the bank anyway.
 
Keep it cheap and cheerful
You don't have to spend a fortune on expensive Christmas gifts. Ways to keep your present outlay down include talking to family or friends about restricting the amount everyone spends to say £10 a head and doing a "Secret Santa" with people you will be with on the 25th - meaning each person only has to buy a present for the person whose name they draw out of a hat.
 
If money is really tight, you can also give those close to you handmade "gift vouchers" that entitle them to a massage or a morning of gardening, for example. And when it comes to food and drink, you can ease the strain on your wallet by asking everyone coming to bring a bottle and a dish.
 
If you MUST borrow - do it as cheaply as possible
It's all very well saying you should stick to a Christmas budget. But doing it is another thing altogether. And if you really have to borrow to cover the cost of the festive season, it makes sense to do so as cheaply as possible.
 
A 0% credit card will allow you to spread the cost without paying interest, as will a free current account overdraft facility. The best 0% purchases cards - such as the Halifax Purchase Credit Card - are currently offering up to a massive 20 months of interest-free borrowing.
 
And even some credit builder cards (designed for people with poor credit scores) offer 0% for an introductory period. These include the Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer card, which gives you three months interest-free spending.
 
For a fee-free overdraft, meanwhile, check out the Nationwide Building Society FlexDirect account.
 
Just remember to keep borrowing to a minimum and clear any debt as quickly as possible.
 

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