It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of Christmas and to overindulge. For an increasing number of people, the bitter side to the celebrations will be fears about the debts that will pile up in January.
Payday loan companies are pushing cash towards vulnerable people. A small amount of cash without too many questions is a temptation. But debts can quickly rocket.
We know lots of people who are in really tight situations and we want to raise awareness of the risk of debt, especially in this last week before the celebrations reach their climax on Christmas Day.
- Plan ahead. Work out what you can afford and stick to your limits. Think about the long weeks of January, as well as the coming days.
- We all enjoy a Christmas treat. But you don't need to blow a fortune to have a great time. People, not things, make the celebration.
- There's no shame in a smaller Christmas budget than last year. Children will often hope for more than we can afford - not surprising with all the advertising that's around just now. They are also better at understanding the reality of what's affordable than many grown-ups.
- If you're in trouble, ask for help. Don't let the problem grow and don't just hope it'll work itself out. Citizens Advice is a great place to start. In St Mary's Crypt on Thursday nights the teams from Islington Legal Advice are available from 7.00 to 8.00pm.
- Informal lending can lead to menacing threats and it is often illegal. Don't be tempted by the offer of cash at the door, or at the pub. And even among friends and family, a gift made generously is often so much better than a loan that is expected to be repaid.
- If you know someone who's being exploited or harrassed, call the police.