Consumers urged to tighten Christmas spending

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A study conducted by BEAT Home Loans showed that one in five consumers feel their lifestyle will be "significantly impacted" by the interest rate rise. As a result, many are considering major changes in their spending habits to rein in expenses. More than half (54%) of respondents are considering eating out less, while a fifth (22%) of respondents say they will trim their petrol consumption. A similar proportion of homeowners (22%) say they would slash credit card spending. "The recent rate rise will require many homeowners to make changes in their day-to-day lifestyle," said BEAT's director John Mohnacheff. Changing your spending habits during the Christmas season is particularly important according to Lisa Montgomery, Resi Mortgage Corporation national manager for consumer advocacy. She warned that during this time, credit card debt can easily spiral out of control. "Many people like to give their credit cards a real workout at this time of the year, lured by the pre-Christmas sales and then the following post-Christmas sales. Unfortunately, this can be an easy way to land yourself in financial trouble," she said. Montgomery recommends planning ahead for Christmas, calculating how much you can realistically afford to spend on presents, holidays and festivities. "Ideally, it is good to put away money for Christmas on a regular basis throughout the year. If you haven't done this, don't immediately resort to your credit card, or even worse to expensive department store cards that have interest rates as high as 20%. Instead, consider lay-buying presents, or if you're ahead of your mortgage, redrawing some money from your home loan, which despite the rate hikes are still far less than the alternatives. Then in the New Year, you should concentrate on putting extra funds back into your mortgage again," she added.

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