Managing your finances at Christmas can be tough, especially when there’s a lot to pay for, and a lot of time to fill. So if you’re planning on doing your festive shopping online, we’ve come up with some key tips that might help.
- Put some money aside every month now – Most of us spend more in the immediate approach to and during the festive period than we normally would, so it’s probably a good idea to budget in advance and put some money aside – so that come mid-December, you don’t have to dig too much into money you either don’t have, or money you’re going to need in January.
- If you need credit, apply carefully – Check your Experian Credit Report before you apply for new credit, as this will give you the best chance of knowing if you will be accepted or not, and make sure the information on it is up to date and accurate. If you check early you may have time to improve things before Christmas, or ahead of the sales. Try to avoid making too many applications close together – even if it’s just to see if you could get one – as to lenders this can signal financial stress.
- Be careful where you click – It’s best to use websites that you know and trust. Always look for a security padlock icon in the top left hand corner of a page before you register financial or personal information on a website. If an online deal sounds too good to be true, it quite probably is. Your credit report can highlight irregularities such as suspect applications for credit and rises in card balances. As a CreditExpert member you can get unlimited views of your Experian credit report, which shows credit activity in your name so you can spot potentially fraudulent activity.
- Buying on credit can give you protection – Christmas is a prime time for buying things that are either unwanted, don’t work properly or don’t fit – so it’s a good idea to ensure you are protected not only by keeping your receipts (which not all of us do with gifts), but with the protection that buying on credit can offer. If you buy goods or services on your credit card, you have extra protection if things go wrong compared with paying by cash or even debit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Just make sure you don’t get carried away and can afford to pay off your credit card in January.
- Keep pins and passwords private – It may sound obvious to some, but use strong passwords, especially if you have stored payment details, and it’s a good idea to change them every now and then. It’s best not to use obvious words and dates, such as your birthday, pets’ or children’s names- and never give account details to anyone else.
- Don’t forget what you’ve spent – Do try to stay within your credit limits and do try to pay your credit bills on time. Missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and this can have a big impact on your score. If you can’t make the minimum payment, speak to your lender as soon as possible – don’t bury your head in the sand.