At this time of year we can all feel under pressure to spend more money than usual - but a merry Christmas can soon become an unhappy New Year if it means building up debts which take months, or even years, to repay.

Here are our top tips for Christmas budgeting:

  • Work out what you can afford to spend and stick to it. The Money Advice Service have an effective budgeting tool which we always recommend. Remember that you still have other bills to budget for, like rent, Council Tax and energy.
  • See what can be done without spending; making your own cards, decorations and gifts can save loads and be great fun. Time spent together as a family will be remembered in future; expensive toys are soon forgotten!
  • The Money Saving Expert website shares lots of deals in the run up to Christmas which can help you save. Visit
  • Make sure you don’t go into your overdraft without talking to your bank first. Unauthorised overdrafts are horrendously expensive even if you are only in the red by a few pounds. Most banks charge £5 per day and some charge a further £5 for each transaction.
  • If you do have to borrow make sure you know the full costs involved and can afford the repayments. Consider if your income is likely to drop and if you would still be able to make the payments. Late payment fees considerably increase the debt and can make it unmanageable.
  • Beware illegal money lenders or 'loan sharks' at this time of year. They prey on vulnerable people in debt, charge extortionate interest rates, and can even be violent. If you spot a loan shark, report them on 0330 555 2222.

Better, safer ways to borrow

  • If you do need to borrow, borrowing from South Manchester Credit Union can be a much better option and they can help you save for next Christmas too. They also have saver accounts for children!
  • Southway has its own Southway Solutions loan scheme which may also be worth considering. This allows you to borrow up to £300 and is also administered by the Credit Union. At 42.6% the APR is a little higher than the credit union’s own rates but still far less than Pay Day and doorstep lenders.

To enquire about a Southway Solutions loan, or for any other money matters, please contact us. Our Advice Team are here to help you.