9 DECEMBER 2004

BUDGET FOR CHRISTMAS AND BEAT THE NEW YEAR BLUES

With only days left until Christmas, www.moneybasics.co.uk, the website that provides simple, clear, independent information about money, offers some hints to help you squeeze the most out of your money and resources. But, warns www.moneybasics.co.uk, make sure you set aside money for essential expenses like food and bills.

Budgeting

Be realistic:

Borrowing

If you have to borrow to cover your Christmas costs, make sure you only borrow as much as you can afford to pay back. A good way to do this is to work out how much you can afford to pay back each month, times it by two or three and then set it as your borrowing limit. That way you'll know that you'll be able to pay back everything you spend before Easter!

Before you decide how to borrow, consider the following options.

Option one: credit cards

Option two: bank overdraft

Speaking on behalf of www.moneybasics.co.uk, Keith Tondeur, comments: "Don't be tempted to use priority money aside for mortgage, rent, gas, electricity etc. to fund Christmas, because you will regret it when the bills start coming in."

"What's more, if you have children, don't fall prey to emotional blackmail! If your children like to sit in front of the box, encourage them to watch videos instead of TV in the run-up to Christmas to avoid the inevitable advertising campaigns."

Post Christmas, if you do find yourself in difficulties, don't just ignore things, seek help at the earliest opportunity . To help pay back any money that you've borrowed as quickly as possible, look at www.moneybasics.co.uk for advice on budgeting and saving. If you're struggling at all, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service helplines are open 8am- 8pm on 0800 138 1111.