CONSUMERS are being warned to resist the urge to over indulge their Christmas shopping, which can leave people struggling with debts that reach far into the new year.

“Having a Christmas budget doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable time,” said Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax which issued the warning.

“A bit of planning now can help spread the cost of the festive season and reduce the urge to pay for it all on the credit card.

“Take some time to think about the year ahead and remember that if you’re still paying for the Christmas shopping credit card bill in July, that summer holiday may be difficult to afford.

“Thinking about spending commitments after the festive period can help put things in perspective.”

Avoid the Ghost of Christmas Debt - Top Tips from Equifax:

  • Plan ahead - work out how much you are going to spend on each person and stick to it. Start buying now to spread the cost.
  • Prioritise - remember you still need to pay the bills, so budget for the rent, mortgage, utilities and food costs for December.
  • Cash is king - if you can afford to, pay for things by cash or debit card. Do not be tempted by new credit agreements you do not need.
  • Bargain hunters - remember to shop around for the best deal. Shop online and buy things in one order to save on delivery costs.
  • Avoid the overdraft - if you do have to dip into your overdraft, speak to your bank, as unauthorised overdrafts incur heavy costs, which can quickly mount up.
  • Interest free credit? - read the small print on loans to ensure you can afford the monthly payments.
  • Count the cost of credit - shop around for the best credit deals and budget for the monthly costs, once the discounts are over and the higher interest rates kick in.
  • Budget - pay your bills on time to avoid incurring charges and use your Christmas budgeting skills all year round.
  • Start saving for Christmas, 2013 - it is never too early to start saving. Put a little aside each month and have yourself a bumper Christmas next year.

Mr Munroe added: “Now is a good time of year to conduct a financial MoT. By reviewing all financial commitments, individuals can calculate how much they have available to spend on Christmas without slipping into unmanageable debt.”