IT is one of the costliest times of the year.

We would all be better off for budgeting and it would certainly help to ease the financial burden celebrating the festivities can bring.

Preparation is imperative which is why many will be snapping up those post Christmas presents in the sales to ensure they get next Christmas all wrapped up at a snip of the price.

Savvy spending is the way to survive and to avoid those red letter bills.

Concerns with the impact of the Universal Credit rollout in 2018 is also prompting people to become more conscious about their expenditure - but for those who are already struggling, help is at hand.

Here in Bradford experts have already been pro-active in helping people to prepare for the additional financial pressure we face during the festivities.

Ian Brewer, financial inclusion officer funded by Bradford Council and working with Bradford District Credit Union, advises: "Make a budget and stick to it."

Often people have unrealistic expectations about their expenditure over Christmas - especially parents who are keen to fulfill wish lists.

But there are ways to avoid disappointments and getting into debt. Ian encourages parents to chat with their children about spending limits.

"Most people just spend but if you are thinking expectations are too high I always think having that conversation with your children, about what Mum and Dad can afford is an important conversation."

A recent 'Manage Your Money Week' was aimed at helping people to manage their money well and signpost them to help and support that is available.

The collaboration between Bradford District Credit Union, Wellsprings Together Bradford and a host of other organisations involved roadshows, events and workshops within Bradford and Keighley.

Ian along with Liz Firth from Wellsprings Together Bradford, had the idea to host the week to unite those working and volunteering in local communities so they could share ideas.

Says Liz: "The fact is that money is at the heart of everybody’s lives whether we are unable to work, unemployed or in work but lots of us struggle with managing our money."

Universal Credit, Money Management Skills, Loan Sharks Awareness, Fuel Poverty, High Cost Lenders were among the topics tackled during the event.

"We wanted this collaborative way of looking at the problems to bring about new partnerships and ideas of increasing financial inclusion to alleviate poverty in our district," explains Ian.

Geraldine Howley, Group chief executive of Incommunities, who was also involved in the event, says: “As the area’s biggest social landlord we are committed to actively engaging with families and customers who are looking for help to manage their budgets better.

"We work closely with our community partners - Bradford District Credit Union, the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), Bradford Council and Citizens Advice to raise awareness of responsible ‘money management’ as well as highlighting the dangers of residents going to illegal lenders."

LifeSavers, a school savings club funded by the Government and Church of England and supported by Bradford District Credit Union, is another initiative educating youngsters to become savvy savers.

The recent 'Buy Nowt Day' on Black Friday aimed to demonstrate how you can still be creative and have fun without spending a penny.

This year the Bradford District Credit Union has seen its membership increase by six per cent to 6267.

During that time it has helped people such as Sherida who moved from the South to be closer to her family in Bradford.

Sherida met Ian at a children's centre that works with the Credit Union to help parents understand about banking and saving. Since signing herself and her family up to become Credit Union members, the 24-year-old is now managing her money. "I'm so proud of myself!" she says.

"For the first time ever I don't have to worry about Christmas."

Sherida is now passing on her budgeting skills to her children. "As a single mum I have only one thought every day, to set my mind on making a future for my kids.

"They are all I live for and I want to provide the best Christmas ever - and have savings for them when they are older, and I want to teach them to save."

For more information, advice and support contact