Avoid debt trap this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 11:58 29 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:04 04 May 2010

EAST Cambridgeshire residents ran up £5.5 million of debt last year with a huge surge just before Christmas. Arrears on loans and hire purchase, catalogue and mail order debts, credit cards and overdrafts caused a giant headache for residents. They sought

EAST Cambridgeshire residents ran up £5.5 million of debt last year with a huge surge just before Christmas.

Arrears on loans and hire purchase, catalogue and mail order debts, credit cards and overdrafts caused a giant headache for residents.

They sought assistance from Ely's Citizens Advice Bureau, some asking for help to declare bankruptcy.

Now CAB staff have issued a warning to shoppers to avoid a debt hangover after the festive season by being smart when buying.

"It's very easy to get carried away at Christmas and spend on the spur of the moment, especially if people leave it to the last minute," said manager, Beverley Howard. "But last year, we saw a huge increase in debt problems immediately after Christmas."

The CAB has issued top tips to try to avoid the debt trap as the festive season approaches.

# Be realistic and budget accordingly.

# Remember that every day bills and other existing debts still need to be paid.

# Don't run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first.

# If you can't afford to pay for your goods outright with cash don't be persuaded to take expensive credit agreements.

# Shop around for the best price and be wary of extended warranties.

# Check for hidden extras in any credit agreement and if you are going to use a credit card shop around and compare terms.

Ms Howard said: "We hope that these top tips will help people take control of their money as Christmas approaches so they do not start the New Year with a debt hangover.

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