Advice Column: Financial Planning

 Thursday 23rd February 2017

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on good financial planning.

 After a period of unemployment, I am due to start a new job next month. I have never been the best at managing my money and I want to make sure that I get off to the best possible start when I start earning. What should I do?

 It doesn’t matter what you earn – whether you are on minimum wage or have a comfortable salary – everyone can benefit from reviewing their finances.

Considering your overall financial situation can help you find a solution for urgent problems, and start planning your finances so that you are better prepared for tomorrow and more financially secure in the long term.

Our eight simple steps will help you to review your finances and start planning for the future.

  1. Do a simple budget Write down your income and take away your essential bills such as housing costs and council tax, 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 our online tool to set a more detailed budget.
  2. Save money on essentials You could save an average of £300 on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers. Use the Citizens Advice 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.
  3. Check you’re claiming the right benefits If you have a family or are married, check if you can apply for working tax credits or marriage tax allowance on 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.
  4. Start saving 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. If 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.

For more information and advice about managing your money, go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

Look out for our column next week when we focus on housing deposits.

 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