A big spend at Christmas can lead to a bad start to next year, one group has suggested.People should ensure they do not spend too much over the festive season in order to avoid tough financial times in the New Year.

This is just some advice from Connections Uniting Care in Windsor, which helps a number of families in the Stonnington area recover from financial hangovers - and these can be brought on thanks to consumers putting too much money on their credit cards, the Stonnington Leader reports.

The local care group pointed out it will still be helping people "long after the Christmas decorations have been put away", suggesting overspending on Aussie credit at the end of the year can have a large effect on a person's finances at the beginning of 2011.

Bask Cassar, a financial counsellor at Connections, said a lot of people use the service in February, which is when credit card statements from Christmas usually drop through the letterbox, plus there are the standard bills to settle, as well as school fees and mortgage repayments to think about.

And those who have to pay the latter will be hoping the Reserve Bank of Australia does not put the interest rate up from its current level of 4.75 per cent.

In November, the organisation increased the official cash level by 0.25 per cent to its current level, but announced December would remain the same.

To help people control their spending over the festive season, Connections has issued a number of recommendations for consumers to take onboard, such as being wary of interest-free deals.

What's more, the care group insists people do not stop paying their bills in order to free up cash to spend around this time of year and urges individuals to avoid payday loans.

Ms Cassar added: "We just want everyone to enjoy the festive season, but not to let the excitement entice them into spending more than they can afford."

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