Christmas has come and gone and many of us are left with a few extra pounds in weight, but fewer pounds in our pockets!
The forthcoming New Year provides the perfect opportunity to reassess finances and save money. Thankfully, Citizens Advice can help you with some top tips on how to shop around and keep your finances in tip top shape for 2018 and beyond.
Planning your finances ahead can keep you in the black
Citizens Advice encourage people to take a ‘financial health check’ to get finances in order for the year ahead; reviewing the opportunities to make savings and getting on top of any debts.
Looking at how you spend your money and where you can trim back will help you plan a budget that meets your daily costs. It can also help you build up savings so that you’re prepared for any sudden changes, from one-off expenses like replacing a washing machine to a change in your employment.
It’s also important to shop around so you get the best deal on your household bills. Energy, broadband and mobile phone tariffs all vary widely, and paying over the odds for lots of bills can all add up. Suppliers need to present the options clearly, so people can make informed choices to keep their costs down.
Not everyone is confident managing their money, so it is really important people are able to access free, impartial help and support to get their finances on track.
Blitz your budget
Get a clear idea of how much you spend. Some bills vary from month to month, so take an average of these outgoings and use it to build a realistic budget.
Get the best deal on your energy
The best energy deal for you depends on anything from the size of your home to the time of day you use the most fuel. To work out if you can save, use the free Citizens Advice Energy Comparison Tool.
Water down your water costs
Smaller households may be able to save money by moving to a water meter. With a meter, you only pay for what you use.
Diarise your contracts
Unless you’re buying an upgrade, things like broadband and mobile phone services can’t be switched until your contract ends. Put contract due dates in your diary – this is your chance to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Sort out your debts
Make a list of your creditors, how much you owe and when you need to pay it back. Refer back to your monthly budget and see what you can afford to pay.
Maximise your income
Overpaying taxes and not claiming what you’re entitled to can have an impact on your income. Make sure you’re on the right tax code by visiting gov.uk. If you’ve got children, check if you’re eligible for tax credits. If you live alone, make sure you’re not overpaying council tax – single person households should get a 25% discount.
Get to grips with your pension
When you retire, you’ll need your income to support you, and give you a decent standard of living. Most people get a State Pension but some people can find it hard to live on this alone. If you can, you should top this up with your own pension to make sure you’ll have enough money to see you through your retirement.
Over 50s with a defined contribution pension can get free impartial guidance on their pension options from pensionwise.gov.uk, so you can start planning your financial future long-term.
We all love to shop and, thankfully, at this time of year there are plenty of bargains to be had – meaning you don’t need to get out of pocket for little luxuries or essentials! The January sales are now on at Peterborough One, so be sure to browse the great selection of reductions in-store. With up to 70% off, bagging a bargain is a cinch!