Advice NI urges people act early to avoid Christmas Debt

Northern Ireland’s largest advice charity Advice NI is encouraging people to avoid getting into costly debt over the Christmas period. 

In recent months Northern Ireland has seen sharp rises in the cost of living and the recent removal of the Universal Credit uplift will see many people struggling to make ends meet over the festive season.

Christmas is an all-too-easy time to overspend with many dipping into credit cards, store cards and overdrafts, resulting in hefty bills come January.

Advice NI has release guidance on how to avoid getting into debt this Christmas, with tips below.

Sinead Campbell, Advice NI’s Head of Money & Debt says: “There’s pressure on people to spend more at this time of year, but with the increases in the cost of living the extra cash just isn’t there.

“People often turn to credit solutions for a quick fix, but high-interest rates mean that they can find themselves struggling to keep up with repayments over the coming year as they spiral more and more into debt.”

Advice NI’s tips for avoiding debt over the Christmas period.

  • Plan ahead – Make a full budget so your regular outgoings such as mortgage and utility bills are covered and then plan for Christmas expenses such as food, presents and going out. Keep an eye out for early deals and savings – Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are worth checking out as well as price comparison sites.
  • Set Limits – It’s time to be frank with children and loved ones this year about what they can expect to receive. Set spending limits with family or make pacts with friends not to exchange gifts. You can also offer to make presents or trade favours instead.
  • Do Not Borrow – Budgeting will help you avoid costly credit this year such as overdrafts, store cards or high-interest loans. If you absolutely have to turn to credit to make ends meet this year, aim for an interest-free credit card to avoid the spiral of high interest rates.
  • Track Your Spending – it’s easy to kick back at Christmas and let the bills be January‘s problem, but keeping a real-time tally of you spending can help you reign it in if you need to. Check your bank balance every day, keep all of your receipts and even create a spreadsheet to keep the bigger picture in mind.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – let this be the year of crafting presents, second-hand shopping or thinking outside the (Christmas) box. It’s time to spend the gift vouchers that have been gathering dust or re-gift unopened items. Recycling and upcycling tips are everywhere at the moment and the added bonus is it’s better for the environment.

Help is available

For those struggling to make ends meet at the moment and over Christmas then help is available from Advice NI. Advisers are able to perform benefits checks to ensure all entitlements are being received and debt advisers can help with budgeting and advocating with creditors. You can call Advice NI for free, independent advice Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm on 0800 915 4604.


  • For further information, contact Kerry McKittrick, Advice NI Communications Co-ordinator on 028 9064 5919 or email
  • Advice NI and the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland dealt with 540,983 enquiries in 2019/20. For more information log on to
  • Advice NI freephone helpline provides free advice on; benefits, debt, business debt, EUSS and Tax Credits & other HMRC products.  Call 0800 9154604 or email: