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What to do if…I have overspent this Christmas


Did you know that the average family spends over £800 at Christmas time? Now that the presents have been opened and the mince pies have been eaten, you may be too scared to take a look at your bank balance. Don’t worry too much, if you feel like you have overspent this Christmas, we are here to help.

It’s easily done, but there are some steps you can take to make getting through January as easy as possible. If you have overspent on presents, forgotten to factor in travel costs or missed out on your Christmas bonus, we have put together these steps to help you get over your Christmas spending habits.

To begin with, make a plan around your debt

Early to mid-January is when people start to receive credit card and store card bills and bank statements. It is important that you take some time out to work out exactly what you spent on what, and what you owe to whom. It may be painful, but it is important that you have this information in front of you so you don’t forget anything and no nasty surprises pop up throughout the rest of the year.

If you realise you have overspent using credit, you must find out what you have over spent (be it on a credit card, store card or an overdraft) and check out the interest rates you are faced with. These can add up quite quickly and it’s important to see the difference in interest rates and charges you might have accumulated, so it will be easier to prioritise paying them back.

If you have taken out a payday loan to help with the costs of Christmas, you must try and pay this back as soon as possible. As payday loans are meant for short-term lending, if you don’t get it paid back within the agreed time frame its common for interest rates to sky rocket, and you could end up paying back much more than you first thought.

If you really feel in over your head due to your spending, there is no need to panic. If you feel like you cannot afford even you minimum payments on your cards or if you are receiving massive interest rate charges from your overdraft or an unpaid payday loan, it may be worth speaking to someone who could help you. There are free debt charities such a Step Change and the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to talk you through your next steps. Remember, you are not alone, and these services will be able to help you!

Budget your January pay

Once you have sorted out any debt you have, you may find yourself short of money throughout the (what feels like) very long month of January.
January is not many peoples favourite month anyway, and it can be even harder when your short on cash. To help you last until the next payday, the best thing for you to do is to plan, and budget.

Work out how much money you will have throughout the month once you take out the usual rent and bill payments and the money you have had to use to pay off your Christmas spends. Make a budget of the money you have left, AND STICK TO IT. Sometimes, sticking to a budget can be the hardest thing in the world, but if you think “It’s just for one month!” you should be able to get through it with a bit of willpower.

There are lots of budget planners available online, which you can then print out and stick leave around your house. Once you have figured out what you can afford, you may need to alter and prioritise your spending to make your money last.

You can do this via shopping at cheaper supermarkets, making food for work at home, properly planning out cheap but nutritious meals each day of the week (there are some great online recipes) and using everything you have in your cupboards. This month may be one of very few luxuries, but it will all be worth it come February.

If you really feel like you do not have enough money to cover your important bills and rent or mortgage payments, speak to your providers, your landlord or you bank rather than go hungry throughout the month.

Sell unwanted gifts

Usually we all get at least one unwanted present at Christmas. Presents like Ipod speakers when you don’t have an Ipod, a jumper three sizes too big or yet another Bodyshop gift set can all be resold on auction or advertising site such as Gumtree or Ebay.

There will be a number of people looking to snap up offers around January, as the savvy shoppers out there know it’s one of the best times to grab a bargain. You may be able to sell your gift for a fair amount, instead of leaving it in the cupboard to be forgotten.

Don’t panic!

January can be a though month for everyone, but the most important thing for you to do is not to panic. If you are really worrying about money, follow our advice here and try to work out exactly what you have left to last you till the end of the month. If after January, you are still worried about making ends meet, it may be time to seek some advice on your finances. You can do this by speaking to a debt charity such as Stepchange or Citizens Advice.

If you think you will be back to normal after January, February might be time to start saving for Christmas 2015!

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