People in Devon should not feel pressured into spending more that they can afford at Christmas, a debt charity has warned.
Plymouth Christians Against Poverty (CAP) said the current economic situation had "squeezed" incomes.
Its advice is to have a "clear strategy" for Christmas shopping and avoid relying heavily on credit.
Christmas is a celebration and should not herald the start of a downward spiral, a CAP spokesman said.
"The temptation is to say 'at least we'll have a great Christmas' and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven't got," Plymouth CAP centre manager Patrick Down said.
"If you've already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear.
"Most of us have seen our income squeezed significantly and will be scaling back so we mustn't feel the pressure to over-consume."
The Plymouth CAP centre opened in October last year, providing free face-to-face debt counselling.