Hailsham debt charity publishes tips to help avoid overspending this Christmas

A debt charity is giving people advice for avoiding over-spending in the run up to Christmas day.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has a centre in Hailsham providing a free service to people with spiralling debt problems.

Its staff and volunteers have compiled a list of top ten tips to help people enjoy Christmas while preventing debt trouble in the New Year.

Hailsham Centre Manager Malcolm Richards said that while it’s rarely Christmas on its own that gets people into debt, using credit to pay for it can make a fragile situation worse.

He said: “What starts as a bit of an income boost can lead to difficulties when working hours get cut, the washing machine breaks or someone is ill.

“The point is, none of us know what is around the corner for 2014 and the best present for your family is to create some financial stability for when life throws the unexpected at us.”

The charity’s top tips are:

1. First of all, give yourself a talking to: some people will always have more than you – and many more people will have less. Aim to remember and mirror the kindness and simplicity of Christmas.

2. Talk to relatives now and agree in advance to ‘just buy for the kids’ or decide to pool your resources to purchase for something bigger for them.

3. Just buy the food you need at Christmas – and if you’re looking for the ‘gut buster’ experience, go bigger on the cheaper items like potatoes and work out what you’ll do with any left overs.

4. If you have guests coming, ask them to bring a contribution eg “Could you bring the wine/pudding/crackers?” If you are the one making the lunch, you are already giving a great deal.

5. Get together with friends and swap clothes, you may just end up with a great party outfit without the cost and it will be fun!

6. Aim for presents to be personal and meaningful rather than expensive. Try photo gifts of special times you’ve had together.

7. Home made presents can be lovely and cheap. Make some marmalade and add a bit of whisky; melt down candles to make new ones and put in old tea cups or do some chocolate truffles.

8. If you are ‘time rich’ make up some vouchers for the things you can do that would help someone else eg ‘One hour’s ironing voucher’ or ‘Afternoon tea at my house voucher’.

9. Check out what you can do for free in your local area. The local church will have special services that will be big on meaning and offer a warm welcome.

10. Remember, your time, care and attention is the most valuable thing you can give anyone big or small.