We all know it’s coming up to that time of year when people are starting to worry about the ‘C’ word. Yes, I’m talking about Christmas. Ok, don’t shoot me, I know we’re only in August but I can guarantee there are people out there who are already panicking about how they’re going to afford things. It isn’t just about presents, it’s also about potentially bigger bills and the other outgoings after Christmas. It tends to have a knock on effect into the next year, doesn’t it?
So what can you do ahead of the end of this year to clean up your financial act, so that you’re in a better position than you are now? It might be that you already have bad credit, it might be that you have a run of bad luck, it might even be that you’ve just been overspending, so what are the options?
Give Your Budget A Bashing
The best way to do this is to keep a spending journal for a month. Write down everything, to the penny, that you’re spending and on what. This way you can review what your actual outgoings are and can get rid of any unnecessary expenses. Do you really need to be spending £5 each day on your lunch? Did you really need that new pair of jeans? At the risk of sounding like Martin Lewis, ask yourself if you can afford it, and if you can’t don’t buy it. If you can afford it, ask yourself if you need it? Is it necessary? If the answer is no, save that money and pay it off one of your debts, or put it in the emergency fund pot.
Personally, I think that by having several debts in several places is the cause of extra debt, or bad finance history due to missed payments. What you want to do it try and consolidate them. If you have six different debts in six different places, try and find a way to get them all in the same place. This could be taking out a loan to pay them all off, thus leaving you with just one monthly payment in one place which will be so much easier to track.
However, if you do have bad finance and are unable to apply and take advantage of this option there is a way around this if you can find yourself a guarantor. Glo are a guarantor loan company who offer exactly this. This is a good option if you’ve had financial problems in the past, you’re new to using credit or your income isn’t steady and predictable as you may find that many lenders judge you really harshly for any of these reasons. It’s one of those vicious cycles especially if you’re in debt already.
Check Your Credit Report
One of the less obvious ones, but it may be that there are errors on your credit report. You can typically get free trials on websites like Experian and if you see a mistake you can contact the corresponding bureau or company to get these resolved. It doesn’t necessarily mean you credit score will go shooting up, so don’t expect fast results, and it means you know what you can work on to achieve a better rating.
Review Your Bill Providers
Everyone once in a while it’s good to keep on top of the rates you’re paying for all household bills. If you’re not fixed to a mortgage deal, then shop around and see if you can get a better rate. If you’ve not checked in with your gas and electricity provider recently, give them a call, ask what deal you’re on and see if you can better it with them or elsewhere.
There are so many other bills you could attempt to get down. If you’re getting Tesco Finest foods, try switching to Aldi or Lidl for better prices. This is exactly what I do when I can! I get as much as I can from Aldi, and then anything I can’t get from there I will get from one of the bigger supermarket chains, but I will not buy top of the range food. I find supermarket value brands are just as good as, if not better, than the pricier foods.
Check out your mobile phone deal too!
Try And Save
I do my best to try and save what money I can so that if there are any emergencies, we have them covered. Lots of people say you should have around six months’ worth of bills in your emergency fund pot should anything terrible happen such as losing a job or becoming ill, and sometimes that’s not an option. However, saving a little bit here and there is better than not saving anything at all. It’s a better option to use any money you can save towards paying off your debts first, but once they’re paid off and you’re keeping on top of things you can start saving for those little treats and you might even be able to treat yourself to that new pair of jeans you wanted to buy earlier on in this post!
Have you ever found yourself in any financial difficulty and come out shining the other side? I’d love to hear your story!
*This is a collaborative post