The financial pressures of Christmas can be a burden, but there are lots of ways you can prepare yourself and avoid stress.
Check out the 25 Christmas tips from our financial and employment support team to help you plan, budget and save money this year.
2. Don’t forget the everyday bills
Remember that rent, the mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still must be paid – and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive to be happy.
3. Temporary gas and electricity credit
Did you know in certain circumstances, when you run out of credit and need gas or electricity urgently, you can contact your supplier to ask for temporary extra credit? You will need to pay this back when you next top up. Contact your provider directly for more information.
4. Assistance schemes
The Government has launched the Household Support Fund to support vulnerable households with essentials during the winter. The new £500m is distributed by councils in England and Wales through small payments to help households meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities.
Contact your local council to find out more information and access the fund.
5. Warm Home Discount Scheme
Did you know that you could be eligible to get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme?
7. Don’t bank on an overdraft
If you do need more money, don’t just run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first. It will work out much more expensive.
8. Keep things simple
If you can afford to pay for goods outright with cash, cheque, or debit card don’t be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements unless they really do work out cheaper. Often, they don’t.
9. Shop around
Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need. Be wary of extended warranties; the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty.
11. Keep a track of your credit rating
Check your current credit score with one of the many free-to-use services now available and, crucially, keep checking it.
12. Be organised
There’s a lot to remember at Christmas. If you’ve borrowed money don’t forget that it won’t be long before you have to make a payment. Make sure you pay on time where possible, even if it is only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges.
13. Lost your employment or fallen into mortgage arrears?
Be sure to check for loss of employment or mortgage protection on any insurance policies you may hold – many people don’t even realise they may have these in place.
Our team is just a phone call away
15. Tax refunds
You might be able to get a tax refund if you lost your job part way through the tax year and you were paying tax through PAYE.
16. Tax relief for working at home
Did you know that you may be eligible for tax relief if you have been forced to work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
17. Do you live alone?
If so, you should be entitled to a 25% single person discount on your annual Council Tax bill.
19. Have you been refused a benefit or had your welfare benefits stopped recently?
We have a dedicated Benefits team that can advise you on challenging a decision.
20. Do you have a health issue that affects your daily living or mobility?
You could be entitled to Personal Independence Payment.
21. Unable to pay your rent?
Did you know you could be eligible for help with the shortfall in your rent if you receive Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal Credit, but you still cannot afford your rent? Contact your Local Council and ask to make a Discretionary Housing Payment application.
23. Universal Credit cash boost
Up to 600,000 additional households are now entitled to Universal Credit following the latest budget when a new 'work allowance' was introduced, with some eligible for an extra £42 per month.
24. Start planning and saving for next Christmas
It may seem too early, but once Christmas is over, it’s worth looking at what you did well and what you didn’t. Learn from any mistakes and start planning how you will do things differently next year. This might also be a good time to start saving for next Christmas.
25. Finally, Have a Merry Christmas!
Remember that we are here to support you or anyone you know who may be struggling.
If you need any help you can call us on 0808 802 8080, seven days a week, 8am-8pm.