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Be merry and wise

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, December 10, 2012

IT is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but it has

often put a great strain on the family budget. With Christmas just around the corner, there will be enormous pressure on many people to spend more money on food, drinks and

presents. Like other things and festivals during the year, Christmas celebrations will no doubt affect a person's pockets. Keeping that in mind, today we give you a look into how you can avoid debts during Christmas and save some money.

THERE is no doubt that many people look forward to Christmas every year.

While many people look forward to it because of its significance to Christianity, others just take it as a holiday to drink and eat.

But with the excessive drinking, eating and not forgetting the giving of gifts come the problem of one's pockets getting lighter —financially.

And if you are not careful, then it may even leave your pocket empty, thus forcing you to run to money lenders for loans to pull through the Christmas weekend and New Year.

Therefore, it is important that as smart and responsible consumers, people plan ahead for their Christmas celebrations, whatever way it may be in.

Firstly, the Consumer Council of Fiji says, people must plan their spending and make a budget to avoid overspending.

"Draw up a personal budget to work out how much you have to pay out on all your essentials and make sure you have these covered," said council's chief executive officer Premila Kumar.

"If you can decide how much you can afford to spend at Christmas in advance and stick to it, you are less likely to skip payments on essential bills which will need catching up with in the New Year."

Mrs Kumar said people should ensure that all their priority bills, including mortgage or rent, gas, electricity, water, council rates and housekeeping costs are being paid on time.

She said people should avoid buying extravagant gifts which were not really necessary, and practice comparative shopping, where they check the prices at various shops. Also, she said, taking out credit was not always a good option especially if a person was struggling to pay priorities or was already in debt.

"Under the pressure of Christmas you are more likely to sign agreements in a rush without checking the small print."

Mrs Kumar said people should also be very careful when borrowing from the "loan sharks" or money lenders.

She said people should not be tempted to borrow from a money lender but instead try every other option before going to one.

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