Debt warning for shoppers

BARGAIN hunters were today warned to "shop savvy" in the final days of the January sales to avoid crippling debts.

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Top tips on how to steer clear of money troubles come from Glasgow's Citizens Advice Bureau which is also staging two information events today in the city.

A spokesman said: "Every year, in January, we see an increase in the number of people who have over-spent at Christmas and in the post-Christmas sales and are now being hit by the bills.

"Our money advisers are experts at helping you get to grips with debts and other financial problems so if you are in this position, come and see us.

"But of course the best way to deal with debt is not to get into it in the first place, or at least not make your existing debts any worse."

These are CAB's 10 tips to avoid debt:

1. Be realistic about what you can afford by working out a budget and sticking to it.

2. Don't buy anything unless you are paying in cash. Only take out credit if it's cheaper.

3. If you must use credit then shop around for the best deal. Don't take out a pay-day loan.

4. Closely read the small print of any credit agreement and if you have a query ask before you sign or take independent advice first.

5. Beware of store cards ­because they are often more expensive than a typical credit card.

6. Don't run up a bank overdraft without first talking to the bank. Unauthorised overdrafts will cost you a lot more.

7. Remember you still have to pay the utility bills. Gas and electricity are often higher at this time of the year.

8. Prioritise your money to meet bills which usually come in January and February.

9. Maximise your income especially if you're a lone parent, on a low income, jobless or a pensioner. There could be benefits which you are entitled too but aren't claiming.

10. If the worst comes to the worst, and you've overspent, then get help immediately.

Community information workers will be on hand to give advice today in the Asda stores at Parkhead and Govan.

Free help is also available at citizen advice bureaus in various parts of the city at Main Street, Bridgeton, Shandwick Square, Easterhouse, Pollok Civic Realm, Greater Pollok and Gallowgate, Parkhead.

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Finance

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