Advice Column: Financial Health Check

Thursday 28th December

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on carrying out a financial health check in the New Year.

 I know that I overspent at Christmas and will struggle to pay my bills this New Year. What should I do to make sure I am in a better financial situation next year?

It is a good idea to start the New Year with a resolution to carry out a money overhaul and make sure that you are getting the best possible deals. In the last year we dealt with 3,330 new debt problems, totalling more than £5m, the equivalent of more than 60 new debt problems every week. The figure is expected to remain high into 2024.

Ten top tips for 2024:

    1. Check that you are not missing out on money that you should be getting in benefits or tax credits, tax rebates or allowances.
    2. If you really need to consider taking out a loan, make sure you shop around and get the best deal. Look out for low interest rates.
    3. Be wary of consolidating your debts. Get advice and don’t put your home unnecessarily at risk. Defaulting on a loan secured against your home could mean that you lose your home.
    4. Plan to build up an emergency savings fund by saving a regular amount each week or each month.
    5. Shop around for the best savings rates and check regularly that it is still the best deal available.
    6. Check out tax efficient ways to save money like cash ISAs (Individual Savings Account)
    7. Be wary of low interest credit card transfers. Check the terms and conditions carefully.
    8. You may be losing money by sticking with your existing bank or energy supplier; shop around, it‘s simple to change.
    9. Don’t automatically renew your car, holiday, or house insurance without comparing prices.
    10. Start planning ahead for next Christmas by setting a little aside each week and save it in an interest-bearing account, such as a special Christmas savings account

All too often people come to us when they’ve already reached crisis point or can no longer cope with their problems. By carrying out a regular financial overhaul and taking some preventative measures many problems could be averted before they become crises. Traditionally people make New Year’s resolutions to change bad habits – we’re urging people to do the same with their finances.

For more information and advice about debt and money, go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk