Plan Your Finances
2nd January 2019
Citizens Advice is predicting that many people will seek help on financial issues such as pensions, investments and debts in January after analysis by the charity revealed that people are more likely to research financial decisions now than at any other time of the year.
January and February are Citizens Advice’s busiest months of the year for queries about finances, with someone viewing online advice pages every 3 seconds in January. While January is often associated with squeezed budgets and debt worries, research reveals that people also use the New Year to take stock of money situations and plan finances long-term.
Issues people are more likely to investigate in January than the rest of the year ahead include:
- Workplace, personal and state pensions
- Ways to save money
- Joint bank accounts
- Vehicle insurance
Citizens Advice services across the country are expecting to help as many as 2,400 people every working day in January with queries about their finances. People are most likely to seek advice on personal pensions, bank accounts and credit referencing, while those with debts need help with council tax arrears, credit card debts and debt relief orders.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice says: “Although debt worries can be more acute in January people are also taking stock of their finances and thinking about the future. It doesn’t matter what you earn – whether you are on minimum wage or have a comfortable salary – everyone can benefit from reviewing their finances.”
She adds: “Considering your overall financial situation can help you find a solution for urgent problems, and start planning your finances so that you are better prepared for tomorrow and more financially secure in the long term.”
With thousands of people seeking money advice every day, Citizens Advice is sharing seven simple steps you can take to review your finances and start planning for the future:
Do a simple budget
Write down your income and take away your essential bills such as gas and electric, food and transport. If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs. Use our online tool to set a more detailed budget.
Save money on essentials
- You could save an average of £300 on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers. Use Citizens Advice’s energy comparison tool to see if you can save.
- Diarise the dates of annual contracts that are up for renewal, like your mobile phone or car insurance, and use a comparison site to see if you can get a cheaper deal.
- Check that you are claiming the right benefits.
- If you have a family or are married, check if you can apply for working tax credits or marriage tax allowance on gov.uk.
- If you live alone, you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax bill.
- If you claim benefits, visit the Citizens Advice website to check if you are eligible for discounts on your water or energy bills.
Start saving if you can – it doesn’t matter if it’s 50p or £5 a week, every penny will help improve your finances!
Saving is an important part of everyday finances, giving you a buffer for emergencies, helping you buy bigger items and giving you more financial security for the future.
Keep tabs on your overdraft
Sign up to free text alerts from your bank so you know when you’re close to going into your overdraft. Then make adjustments to your spending if you can.
Be choosey about your borrowing
If you need to borrow money, it’s important to know that there are different offers with credit cards and loans, from free balance transfers to paying no interest for the first few months.
Get your debts in order
If you can’t pay all your debts at once, it’s important to prioritise. Rent or mortgage and council tax are more important than credit card debts for example, as the consequences can be more serious if you don’t pay. Find out how to prioritise on the Citizens Advice website or contact your nearest service for help.
Invest in your future
Pensions are a great way to save for the future and are also good value, as your contributions are topped up your employer and the government.
If you’re eligible for auto-enrolment, consider paying more than just the minimum.
Those who are self-employed can still set up their own pension but make sure it’s with a regulated company.
If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension you can get free a Pension Wise appointment to learn more about taking your pension.
Bag a Bargain at Garden Square!
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 Garden Square, so be sure to browse the great selection of reductions in-store. With up to 70% off, bagging a bargain is a cinch!