Financial Tips For Staying In The Black This Christmas

A local debt counselling service has released its top financial tips for staying in the black this Christmas.

Ballymena Baptist Church runs the debt counselling service in conjunction with UK charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). They have launched a list of tried-and-tested ways to avoid festive financial meltdown.

Financial Tips For Staying In The Black This Christmas

Valerie Roebuck, Ballymena Debt Centre Manager, said:

“All the adverts sell us the line that the best kind of Christmas is one that can be bought, which just isn’t true! The best Christmases are about making priceless memories, which is why we created the list.”

She added that for the last few years the Ballymena CAP Debt Centre has seen a spike in the numbers of people coming to them in the months after Christmas. She went on to say:

“The reason for this is either because some people realise they have spent more than they can afford, or they have reached a crisis point in their finances. Various things can trigger this. Most commonly it’s a job loss, an unexpected illness or relationship breakdown.

Now is the right time for families to talk to each other about creating a sensible game-plan for Christmas and a Happy New Year – for everyone.”

CAP office based at Ballymena Baptist Church gives financial tips for staying in the black this Christmas.

The top tips have come from both the experience of those within the charity as well as CAP’s own clients. They know what it is like to stick to a tight budget as they clear their debts.

1. Agree on a game plan to stop all of your overspending. Do a ‘secret Santa’? Agree on a set amount each? A ‘just for the kids’ rule? A ‘from charity shops only’ rule?

2. If children have their heart set on something out of your price range, club together with relatives.

3. Short of a new Christmas outfit? Get together with mates for a swapping party and you’ll all go home with something new, without the cost.

4. If you’re doing the meal, ask guests to each contribute something. Drinks? Pudding? Cheese? Cake? The turkey?! If you’re spending time cooking a Christmas feast, you are already giving a lot.

5. Aim to only buy the food you will actually eat and decide what you will do with left-overs. For example, potato cakes can be made from cooked potatoes. Make stock from the turkey carcass. Make soup from uneaten vegetables or freeze unused gravy for another time.

6. Home-made goodies always go down well – cupcakes, chocolate truffles, shortbread, jam. All are cheap to make and, wrapped with cellophane and ribbon, make great presents.

7. Your time and thoughtfulness are every bit as valuable as your money. Instead of presents, offer vouchers for gardening or washing the car. Could be for a few hours cleaning, ironing or making someone’s favourite cake or snack.

8. So many people live alone – a cheery visit from you is worth more than any present!

9. Spend time focusing on what you can enjoy at no cost, and make Christmas really special. Watching your kids in the school nativity. Watching the lights get switched on. Enjoying Christmas carols in church. Dressing the tree. Playing family games.

10. Never take out credit or be tempted by a Christmas loan – you don’t know what the new year will bring. Your income may change and it could affect your whole family’s security. No Christmas is worth that.

• If you have problem debts, give yourself the gift of peace of mind. Visit the CAP website here or call 0800 328 0006.