1 Stick to a budget
Make a list of your monthly income, outgoings, and bills so you know where cash goes. “Include one-off expenses such as presents. Note everything you buy for a week and cut out unnecessary purchases,” says Edward Ware from StepChange Debt Charity. “Don’t make your budget too strict or you may give up. Plan ahead for bigger purchases so if you’re expecting to spend more the next month, budget for it this month.”
Those with savings goals save £42.50 more monthly, says NS&I
2 Down with debt
People typically owe £3,249 in loans, unpaid credit and overdrafts. Shift any expensive store card or credit card outstanding balances to a 0 per cent introductory offer credit card. “These usually charge a 2-3 per cent balance transfer fee, but it’s worth doing if you can get two years of interest-free repayments,” says Matt Sanders at GoCompare.com. Don’t enter into any instant credit agreements, no matter how enticing.
TIP: StepChange 0800 138 1111 offers free debt help and advice
3 Save, save, save!
Savers should be in for a better year as banks and building societies start to fight for your money. “ISAs should be your top choice because of the tax advantage,” says Sylvia Waycot of Moneyfacts.”There are also accounts that allow you to save a set monthly amount and pay good rates. Kent Reliance BS pays
4 per cent AER on £25 monthly. Set aside ten per cent of your monthly income towards savings and then watch the balance grow.
TIP: Check the best savings deals in weekend newspapers or on www.moneyfacts.co.uk
4 Ditch and switch
“How many times have you seen introductory offers for services you pay full price for? Well, don’t get mad take action,” says Steve Rees of debt consultant Vincent Bond. “Everything from banks to satellite TV providers and phone companies will offer introductory discounts to entice new business through the door.”
TIP: Ask current providers to offer a better deal – and switch if they don’t.
5 Grab what is due
“Just because HM Revenue & Customs sends you your tax code, it doesn’t mean it’s right,” says Steve Rees of debt consultant Vincent Bond & Co. “If it’s wrong you could be paying more tax than you should.” Use the tax checker at www.hmrc.gov.uk or call your local tax office. Also, check whether you can get any additional money through tax credits and benefits by going to www.entitledto.co.uk or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
1.6m people are missing out on Pension Credit, says DWP