Enjoy an affordable Christmas

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Every year we have this talk and every year some of you listen and some of you don’t.

So before the Christmas madness starts for real when the calendar flips over to December on Saturday, let’s have it out here and now.

There’s a difference between spending money you haven’t really got and spending money that you really haven’t got. Starting 2019 in a hole to a payday loan firm, loan shark or weekly payment retailer is one way of making sure you don’t forget Christmas for a while, but it’s not a method I’d recommend. Without wishing to sound like Martin Lewis, it doesn’t come as a shock, it’s not a moveable feast, it’s on December 25 every year.

It’s too late for this year but for Christmas 2019 put a little bit away every month and in 12 months’ time, that’s your pot.

Easier said than done, what with stagnating wages, rising food prices, rent and Brexit, but there you go. I’m a jobbing journalist, not an independent financial adviser.

It’s taken years for the penny to drop but here’s an expensive lesson I learned - if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Not exactly rocket science but it kept the wolves from the door here during the worst recession since the 1930s.

There have been horror stories in the news of certain high street stores selling games consoles on the never-never for eye-watering amounts.

Here’s one example. BrightHouse sell an Xbox One Bundle with a ticket price of £388.74. One of its repayment terms is £6.25 a week for 130 weeks with an APR of 99.9 per cent. So a games console that should sell for under £400 ends up costing more than double, £812.50 - and you’ll still be paying for Christmas 2018 in the first few weeks of 2021. Seriously, have a word with yourselves. Theresa May came back from Brussels with a better Brexit deal than that.

Without wishing to sound like The Grinch, gift amnesties are marvellous. Do you really need to buy for your 37-year-old sister? Does she really need to buy for you? If you can remember what gifts you swapped last year then go for your lives. But if you’re telling the truth, then a clink of your G&T glasses and a firm handshake should do the trick.