In today's tough economic climate we all know how hard it is to save money. With the cost of living continuing to rise and with no end in sight to the recession, putting money away each week can be a tricky task.
However, saving the odd penny here and there is easy to do - just follow a few of our top tips from the list below and you'll be sure to see the pounds come rolling in.
If you are keen to avoid a financial hangover the Citizens Advice Bureau issues top tips to keep your spending under control.
Set a budget
Plan your spending according to your budget. Prepare a budget and set a limited amount for each individual on your Christmas list and stick to it. Be realistic of what you can afford to give - don't go overboard.
Don't forget the everyday bills
Although Christmas comes only once a year, the regular bills are around all-year-round, like your rent, mortgage, utility bills, food and other expenses. These expenses have to be paid on time unless you want them to pile up. Set your priorities right even through Christmas time.
Don't bank on an overdraft
If you are low on budget and need extra cash, avoid running up an overdraft without consulting your bank. This can be more costly in the long-run.
More often than not it's cheaper to buy with cash, cheque or debit card instead of using your credit cards where you have to pay interest. Although you get more consumer protection should something go wrong, use your credit cards only on discounted items wherever possible.
It always pays to check as many price comparison websites as possible to find the best special offers. Buy only things you want and not what people say you should have. It is not always wise to bank on items with long warranties, most of the times, the cost of repair is less than the cost of the warranty.
Be safe, buy safe
As a rule never buy counterfeit goods or goods from unauthorised dealers - and never borrow from unauthorised lenders like loan sharks.
Read the small print
If you need to resort to credit, always read the small print of any credit agreement. Compute the total amount to be paid and ensure you can afford the monthly instalments. Although some credit cards offer interest-free purchases, missing one payment can cost you a lot more.
Manage your own credit balance
If you are looking for a credit card, go for the one with the lowest interest rate. But you have to be smart - some cards may charge high interest rates, but they also provide interest free periods or discounts. Be sure to pencil in your diary or calendar the dates for payments of any purchases made on credit cards and stick to them.
Christmas should always be full of happy memories, and this includes remembering paying for the money you borrowed. Keep in mind that paying on time means less interest and missing on payment translates to additional charges.
Last updated: 18 January 2012