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Christmas presentOK, it's December so the countdown to Christmas has officially begun... and like everyone else we're busy, trying to get organised ahead of the day itself.

So, do we have any advice or tips we can share? 

Well oddly enough, we do!

Here at Wiltshire Citizens Advice we love nothing better than sharing advice... and this year we've a dozen top tips to help ease the pressure on household budgets.

In the past 12 months, our advisers here at Wiltshire Citizens Advice helped almost 2,000 people deal with over 8,500 debt problems, almost a third of whom needed advice between January and March - traditionally the busiest months. 

Our 12 budget boons could help guard against the heavy toll the festive season can take on family finances - and help you start the new year without a debt hangover.

12 tips to budget better this Christmas

Our 12 top tips to budget better for Christmas

  1. Plan early: Plan how much you are going to spend on each person and stick to it. Manage expectations about what you - or Santa - can give.
  2. Don’t forget everyday bills: It may be Christmas, but keep on top of priority bills, such as rent and council tax. The consequences for non-payment can be severe.
  3. Think twice about overdrafts: Don’t run up an overdraft without first chatting to your bank - or it could be costly.
  4. Keep it simple: Pay for your goods with cash or a debit card if you can. Don’t be persuaded to take out credit.
  5. Shop around: Look for the best price and buy only what you want, not what others say you need. Be wary of extended warranties - often the cost of repair is less.
  6. Avoid unauthorised lenders: Loan sharks may seem friendly at first, but borrowing from them is never a good idea – even if you feel you have no other option.
  7. … and unauthorised traders: Whatever the deal, don't buy from unauthorised traders - it may prove to be more expensive in the long run.
  8. Read the small print: Check credit agreements for hidden extras and work out the total amount to repay. Interest-free deals have a nasty sting if you miss a payment.
  9. Do your own credit checks: If you plan to use a credit card, shop around - some charge high interest, but may have lengthy interest-free periods.
  10. Be organised: If you’ve borrowed, repayment will be due before you know it. Make sure you make at least the minimum repayment or you’ll be hit with charges. Put payment dates in your diary or set up a direct debit.
  11. Start planning for next Christmas: It may sound crackers, but just after Christmas is the best time to learn what went well this year, what didn’t, and start saving.
  12. Get help if you’re worried: We can give you solid, free and impartial debt advice online, over the phone and face-to-face.
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