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Plan now for next Christmas say OFT and CAB

Citizen's Advice and OFT launch workshop sessions

Citizens Advice logo

Citizens Advice offer free and independent debt advice

The Office of Fair Trading and Citizens Advice are urging people who have struggled financially this Christmas to start thinking now about saving for next year.

As part of the OFT’s Save Xmas campaign, selected Citizens Advice Bureaux and other organisations will be running 240 financial workshop sessions in the new year to raise awareness of savings options and encourage people to start saving.

The workshops will be targeted at priority groups including housing association tenants, lone parents, and those on benefits or low incomes.

In the 18-month period to the end of September 2009, Citizens Advice dealt with more than three million client debt problems and is encouraging people to think ahead.

John Rhodes, Head of Financial Capability at Citizens Advice said: ‘Christmas will have given many people a debt hangover that they might have been able to avoid. We’re encouraging people to plan for next year, find out about the options available and set up a savings plan. This should help reduce the need for expensive credit, and limit the financial and emotional challenges associated with problem debt.’

Top tips to plan for Christmas

OFT Logo

The OFT and Citizens Advice offer the following top tips:

  • Plan early – be realistic about what you are going to need for next year and budget accordingly.
  • Look at your options – find out about the pros and cons of post office, bank, building society and credit union savings schemes, as well as Christmas clubs, supermarket stamps and hamper schemes. Details on all the options are available at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/savexmas.
  • Take action – choose the best option for you, and start putting some money aside.
  • Since 2007 more than 40,000 people have attended Save Xmas workshop sessions. Independent research found that attendees developed greater confidence about choosing savings options and 38 per cent went on to make some change to their saving behaviour.

David Murphy, Head of Campaigns at the Office of Fair Trading, said: ‘Christmas does tend to focus the mind on money issues, and we hope our campaign delivered in partnership with Citizens Advice will help people to think about the importance of making informed choices about saving for next year.’

Which? welcomes Save Xmas campaign

Martyn Saville, Which? Senior Researcher, commented, ‘This is a great example of a locally-based campaign offering useful and timely advice to those who have struggled to pay for Christmas this year and who want to plan for Christmas 2010. Financial education plays a key part in helping consumers to manage their money effectively and to hunt out the best deals for their savings and current accounts.

‘If you need help with dealing with existing debt, it’s worth speaking free of charge to an expert at your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, or to another free, independent organisation such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) or National Debtline. Don’t use a commercial debt management company – why pay for a service that is available better, and free, elsewhere?’

For more information on managing your finances, read the Which? guide to dealing with debt.

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