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Controlling your Credit at Christmas

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WHILE Christmas is certainly the most magical time of the year, for many families that magic can be tainted with the financial pressures and worries that go with it.

It’s easy to let these pressures get on top of you, but with a little planning and forward thinking, most of these worries can be avoided, and for those who still find themselves struggling, help is at hand too.

Jonathan Hayward, manager of the local branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP) who specialise in helping people on low-incomes, said they often see many clients struggling to cope with the cost of Christmas, with some dreading the festive season.

There are, he said, many ways to deal with these pressures, such as managing expectations and talking to family members about what you can afford and coming to an arrangement.

Mr Hayward said, above all, not to put debt on your Christmas list this year: “The main thing to remember is that all those credit cards will have to be paid off. Also, don’t use store cards, as they are often very expensive.”

He added: “The main thing would be to start shopping early. Buying a little at a time is good. “Look at your spending and decide what is important. See what you can manage without. For example, it’s very easy to overspend on alcohol. Remember to leave enough for the basics.”

If you do find yourself struggling, however, support is available. “Today, sadly, in Enniskillen there are families struggling to put food on the table,” said Sharon West from Enniskillen Foodbank, who said a sudden crisis such as redundancy, benefit delay or even an unexpected bill, can cause great difficulty.

“Christmas can be an especially difficult time for individuals and families who are already managing on extremely tight budgets. The increased winter fuel bills, and the pressure of choosing between heating and eating, will sadly push many families into food crisis.”

Ms West said the Enniskillen Foodbank, which is located at the Lakes Vineyard on Cross Street, opposite The Buttermarket, all clients are welcomed and will be listened to and signposted to services that can provide support with the underlying causes of their crisis, helping to break the cycle of poverty and provided emergency food to help them through their crisis.

From December 1-3, inclusive, Tesco in Enniskillen will be hosting a food collection for the Foodbank. Donations to the Foodbank are also always welcome and will be used to provide three-days of nutritionally balanced, emergency food to people in crisis that have been referred by frontline professional agencies such as Citizens Advice or children’s centres.

“Please get behind us to not only support our local communities, and provide vital food for people experiencing crisis, but also giving local people important support beyond food, but to help tackle the root causes of poverty,” said Ms West.

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