Late December and early January are the best time of the year for sales. But it's all too easy to get caught up in the rush and end up with something that isn't such a good bargain at all. So how do you spot the real bargains? And how do you avoid being tempted into buying things you will later regret? Here are seven reasons why you should look hard at those tempting Sale! stickers before … [Read more...]
Budgeting and debt
Good budgeting is the cornerstone of dealing with debts. If your debts aren't out of control but you want to pay them off as quickly as possible, taking control of what you spend will help you get there faster. If you are struggling it's vital that you don't waste any money at all!
The basics are covered in Smarter Budgeting, then follow that up with some of these articles looking at specific areas.
I know it's still October, but that's not too early to start thinking about Christmas! Finding a great list of cheap presents in mid December can be way too late to get them delivered in time. This is especially important if you have problem debts - some advance planning will help keep the costs down so Xmas 2016will be less stressful and you won't be left paying the cost well into 2017. Cut … [Read more...]
The government is planning to introduce a Help to Save scheme to encourage people on low incomes to build up a rainy day fund. It is consulting on the details of the scheme and asking for responses by 21 July 2016. I have looked before at whether you should save an emergency fund or repay debt, and at the importance of saving for people in a DMP, IVA, DRO or bankruptcy. So I am very interested … [Read more...]
Are you wondering how to keep your children happily occupied at the lowest possible cost all through the summer holiday? Here is a pile of ideas, including some new ones for 2016, and they are almost all free or pretty cheap. Get out of the house as often as possible Picnics! In your own garden or down at the local park. Sit around in the sun and show them how to make daisy-chains. Take … [Read more...]
Are you worrying about how to afford the electricity and gas bills this winter? For the last couple of years, prices have remained stable or fallen a bit, but in winter 2016 many people will be seeing price rises, putting extra pressure on your budget. The good news is that two million households may be able to get £140 off their electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount scheme if they … [Read more...]
MoneySupermarket have found that in 2016 on average people are being charged an extra £73 to pay their car insurance monthly. And as more than 45% of people pay do this - up from about 40% in 2014 - that is a lot of extra profit for the insurers. Do people realise the extra cost? In May 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority published its Thematic Review of Provision of premium finance to … [Read more...]
If money is a problem this month - or most months - then it's important to know what your most important ("priority") payments are. It also helps to think about whether bills are fixed this month or if you can reduce them. Here is one way to divide up some of the most common expenses: Priority, fixed These are usually hard or impossible to change in the short-term: rent / mortgage car or … [Read more...]
You have debts but you don't think you need to budget? Very few people can tackle a serious debt problem unless they budget, so don't kid yourself that you are one of them. Here are eight arguments I have heard used to justify not budgeting - are they all bad excuses, or do you think some of them are good reasons? 1 "It's too complicated at the moment, I'll start next month" I'm writing this … [Read more...]
If you are in a debt management plan (DMP), an IVA, a Debt Relief Order (DRO) or have gone bankrupt, then you probably have little 'spare money' each month. It may seem very difficult to save anything - but you need an emergency fund even more because you will find it difficult or impossible to borrow in a crisis. A small emergency fund is your financial first aid kit If you can only save … [Read more...]
A lot of personal finance advice starts out with "Everyone needs an emergency fund". A survey in June 2016 showed that a third of middle-class families couldn't pay an unexpected bill of £500 without borrowing, so the lack of savings is a very widespread problem. But what if you already have debts that you are paying off? Accumulating an emergency fund will delay clearing the debts and increase … [Read more...]