Face up to debt with positive action

Christmas can be a wonderful time to give presents to family and friends but, with the current state of the economy, this time of year can also place a major financial strain on some families. If personal debt is a problem then the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice Bureaux can help by finding ways to reduce debts, perhaps by re-negotiating debt repayments. 

The Money Advice Service and a plethora of websites like moneysavingexpert.com can also help find ways to cut back on spending wherever possible. Some people, at this time of year, will be starting to think about how to pay for home improvements in the spring or a holiday in the summer. Rather than borrowing from expensive commercial lenders to fund any of this, it is worth finding out more about your local Credit Union which can help people to save, or borrow the money at a far lower rate of interest than commercial lenders.  

And finally, the Money Advice Service also provides an online money health-check which can help identify other financial issues that may need attention such as pension-planning. This may not be as much fun to think about now as holidays and home improvements but with more of us living longer and the government delaying the age at which we will get our state pension, we all need to plan much further ahead if we want to have a good time in retirement.

Karen Rowlingson is Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) at the University of Birmingham.