Changes in your life can have a knock on effect on your finances. This can lead to your finances getting out of balance and may even become a worry. If you're feeling the pinch, here are some steps you can take to save money or reduce debt and help to get things back under control.
Using a budget planner is an easy way to manage your finances, work out an achievable budget and identify where savings can be made.
- List everything that's coming in and out of your account each month. This is the starting point to being able to balance your budget. Your bank statements should help with this.
- Identify essential outgoings such as your mortgage, council tax, utilities, travel expenses, childcare etc. These costs are likely to be a set amount each month.
- Identify variable outgoings such as groceries, clothes and everyday expenses such as coffee, lunch and newspapers. These outgoings will change on a month-to-month basis, and they are the ones that you can reduce and can have the biggest impact on balancing your budget.
- If you have any money left over at the end of the month, you should consider saving it: even small, regular savings can make a difference over time, creating a pot of money you can break into for unforeseen emergencies or even periods when you know your spending will increase, such as Christmas.
Once you've created a budget planner, these are things you can do to organise and take control of it.
- Wherever possible, pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order 1 or 2 days after you get paid, so that you know you'll have enough in your account and can clearly see what's left over.
- If your bank has an online banking service, use it reguarly to keep track of your spending.
- Regularly review your variable outgoings and save money by cutting back on non-essential items, cancelling that unused gym membership or switching to cheaper options.
It's a good idea to keep some money in an easy access rainy day fund for emergencies or unexpected expenses. A sensible solution is to set up a standing order to transfer your money to a savings account the day after you get paid, that way it won't be sitting around in your current account tempting you to spend it.
Have you checked your tax code recently to make sure you're paying the right amount of tax? Are you entitled to any allowances or payments such as child benefit, family credit, carer's allowance or Universal Credit? A quick phone call or a few minutes online will give you the answers.
For essential cover like car and home insurance it's always worth shopping around for the best deal. If you have separate policies for things like your mobile phone and glasses, or you've taken out extended warranties, you could be duplicating your cover – and paying more than you need to.
Even when your budget is tight, you still have to buy the essentials. To get more from your money, try writing out a shopping list before your weekly shop and avoid making impulse purchases.
It's a good idea to tackle debt problems quickly before things get worse. Of course, before you tackle debt you'll need to address your spending first; so if you haven't done so, you should set up a budget planner to get your monthly outgoings under control. Then, you should consider the following to help sort out your existing debts.
- Make a list of all your debts with expensive interest rates first.
- Where possible try to move any debts with expensive interest rates to lower rates, for example transferring any store cards and high-interest credit cards to a credit card or personal loan with a lower interest rate – or even an interest-free period.
- Contact your creditors to let them know that you are struggling to make your repayments, they may be able to help you manage them better.
- Get free debt advice to help you work out the best way to get yourself out of debt quickly. You could contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or organisations such as National Debtline or StepChange Debt charity. They'll be able to advise you of the different types of help you can get – for example, there's a Government scheme to help mortgage holders who are struggling to make their monthly repayments. The scheme will pay the interest on your mortgage up to certain thresholds.
If you're concerned about your financial situation, please call us on 0345 900 0900 (local rate) as soon as possible. As a responsible lender we will work with you to ensure you can keep in control of any money concerns you may have, whether they are short or long term.
The following websites can provide you with further information about managing your money – they'll even speak to lenders on your behalf, if you want them to.
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