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Top tips to get in control of your finances

Top tips to get in control of your finances

Category: Money

Updated: 05/01/2016
First Published: 05/01/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

It can be all-too easy to overspend at Christmas, and many of us could be suffering with a bit of a financial hangover as a result. Hopefully, you've vowed to do something about it, so start by checking out our top tips to get back in control of your finances…

  • Keep track of your spending. The first step to getting in control is understanding where your money goes in the first place, so start the year right by vowing to keep track of your spending. Analyse your bank statements so you can see exactly what you're spending your money on, and once you've got up to speed, you can see what's essential spending and what isn't quite so vital.
  • Set up direct debits to pay your bills. Hopefully you'll know what bills you need to pay and when, but to make sure you absolutely never miss a payment, it could be worth setting up direct debits. This can be useful for utility bills as well as credit repayments, with many credit card providers allowing you to set up direct debits to meet the minimum monthly amount – as long as you've got the available cash in your bank account, there'll be one less thing for you to worry about.
  • Cut back and set a monthly budget. Once you've got a thorough understanding of where your money goes, it could be time to make a few changes. Spend too much on shop-bought lunches? Make your own! A few too many takeaway coffees? Carry a thermos! It's all about making cutbacks, but those small sacrifices could easily add up over the month and can help ensure you're not struggling to make it through to payday. Try to set a monthly budget so you know exactly what you need to pay out and when, and if you stick to it, you needn't worry about running out of cash.
  • Save more. Take those extra pennies you've managed to save by making cutbacks and put them into a dedicated savings account. This way, you'll be able to see how much you're really benefiting, and watching the balance grow could be a great way to stay motivated. You may want to set a few savings goals or have an idea of what you want to spend the money on to boost your motivation levels even more, and if you can, consider setting aside a few pounds as soon as you're paid – once you get into the habit, you won't even notice that it's missing.
  • Consolidate. If all those credit repayments are getting difficult to cope with, it could be time to consolidate. Opting for a 0% balance transfer credit card could be a great place to start (you can get over three years to repay the balance without interest adding to the bill), or if you want a clearer route out of debt, you may want to consider a personal loan. You can choose the amount you want to borrow and the repayment term, and by the end of it, you'll be completely debt-free – just make sure to cut up those credit cards!
  • Stay on top of your credit score. Understanding your credit score is a great way to get back in control, so use a credit check provider (such as Experian CreditExpert) to view your report and follow our top tips to improve it.
  • Review your utility bills, insurance policies and mortgage. Want to save even more money in the year ahead? Then give your outgoings a thorough overhaul! Now's a great time to compare things like energy tariffs and broadband packages, and if your insurance policies are coming up for renewal, make sure to get plenty of quotes for comparison. You could even take it one step further and consider remortgaging – mortgage rates are still at historically low levels, so if you're stuck on a higher rate, remortgaging to a better deal could easily save upwards of hundreds of pounds per year. Get started!

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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