Sutton Citizens Advice bureau has issused details on how to get your finances in order
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 the Citizens Advice 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 you’re claiming the right benefits
You may be able to increase your income by claiming welfare benefits such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Council Tax Reduction. Remember that not all welfare benefits are means tested – for example Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance do not take any account if your income or savings. You can check your entitlement to welfare benefits online at https://www.turn2us.org.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. You could open an account with the local Croydonplus Credit Union – see http://www.cmscu.co.uk/
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. f 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. You can arrange an appointment with a Pension Wise guider by visiting https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/ or telephoning 0800 138 3944