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money.co.uk comment: tips on avoiding debt this Christmas

It can be all too easy to overspend at Christmas trying to make sure you give your loved ones the best gifts ever. It's important you don't find yourself falling into the debt trap and struggle to provide for yourself or your family because you've been too generous on one day of the year. If you haven't saved enough in advance, be savvy with your spending and if you really do need to borrow research the cheapest way possible.

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Begin with a budget: 

Work out how much you can afford to spend on Christmas up front. Split the amount you have between everything you need to buy. Remember to include presents, food, the tree, travel, Christmas cards, stamps and even wrapping paper. Once you've worked it all out keep it somewhere handy like on your phone to help you stick to it.

Have a Plan:

Make a list of the prices of the gifts you'd like to buy before purchasing anything. Keep an eye on them online and only snap them up when you see the best deal or a price you're happy with. It's worth checking in-store too with events like Black Friday not too long away it's worth holding on to see if prices drop.

Get the best price:

Always look for discount and voucher codes to get money off your shopping. Sign up to your favourite retailer's newsletters to get exclusive offers and check on websites like Quidco or Topcashback to see if you can get a percentage of your shopping back.


Factor in delivery when you're buying online. It may mean a different website is actually cheaper to buy from once you've added in the cost of getting it delivered. Remember to factor in the cost of returns if you're buying something you're not sure you will want to keep too. Plenty of websites now offer a click and collect service meaning you don't need to pay for delivery. If you're organised, you can plan to pick up your goods on your lunch break.

Discount retailers: 

For stocking fillers and cracker gifts avoid expensive stores and instead hit the bargain retailers to get smaller things for reasonable prices. Bargain supermarkets are also great for the big Christmas turkey shop and can slash the cost of your shopping.

Avoid big Brands:

Small children are rarely logo snobs and will love a toy regardless of where it comes from. Research where to buy your food from too - lots of taste tests prove that buying branded foods won't necessarily mean you'll get better quality.

Do it yourself:

Get busy with the glitter and make your own Christmas cards and tree decorations. Doing this with the kids not only makes it extra special but they'll make great gifts too. Try to avoid buying pre-chopped veggies for Christmas day - you'll be surprised how much you can save by dedicating yourself to chopping your own carrots on Christmas morning.

Spend sensibly:

If you know you aren't going to have enough saved to get through Christmas avoid using your overdraft if it's unauthorised or a credit card that charges you a high rate of interest. Look instead for a credit card that offers 0% interest on purchases for a number of months. This could give you the opportunity to borrow money without paying hefty interest fees and spread out the cost of Christmas. Be sure to pay the balance off before the interest free period ends.

Know your consumer rights:

Buy online and you get 14 days to change your mind and get a full refund including the cost of standard delivery (applies to most items but not all - there are some exclusions). Buy in store and you're not automatically entitled to a refund just because you've changed your mind. Check the store's refund policy before you spend any cash. Deliveries should be with you within 30 days of ordering unless a different (earlier or later) date was given.

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Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Senior Personal Finance Writer

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. He left the world of journalism to pursue his passion for personal finance.

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Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

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