As the New Year gets underway, Citizens Advice is encouraging people to take a ‘financial health check’ to get their finances in order for the year ahead; reviewing where they can make savings and getting on top of any debts.
In the last twelve months, local Citizens Advice helped with 1.8 million queries about debt and personal finances.
We have lots of tools to help you get on top of money matters – from budgeting tools, to dealing with debts.
See if our health check can help you start 2016 with confidence.
Citizens Advice financial health check
Blitz your budget
Get a clear idea of how much you spend. Some bills vary from month to month, so take an average of these outgoings and use it to build a realistic budget. The Citizens Advice budget sheet can help.
Get the best deal on your energy
The best energy deal for you depends on anything from the size of your home to the time of day you use the most fuel. To work out if you can save, use the free Citizens Advice energy comparison tool.
Water down your water costs
Smaller households may be able to save money by moving to a water meter. With a meter, you only pay for what you use. Work out if you could save by visiting the Consumer Council for Water.
Diarise your contracts
Unless you’re buying an upgrade, things like broadband and mobile phone services can’t be switched until your contract ends. Put contract due dates in your diary - this is your chance to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Sort out your debts
Make a list of your creditors, how much you owe and when you need to pay it back. Refer back to your monthly budget and see what you can afford to pay. If you can’t afford them all, go to your local Citizens Advice or visit the website for information on which debts should take priority, and negotating with your creditors.
Maximise your income
Overpaying taxes and not claiming what you’re entitled to can have an impact on your income. Make sure you’re on the right tax code by visiting gov.uk. If you’ve got children, check if you’re eligible for tax credits. If you live alone, make sure you’re not overpaying council tax - single person households should get a 25% discount.
Get to grips with your pension
When you retire you'll need your income to support you, and give you a decent standard of living. Most people get a State Pension but some people can find it hard to live on this alone. If you can, you should top this up with your own pension to make sure you'll have enough money to see you through your retirement.
Over 50s with a defined contribution pension can get free impartial guidance on their pension options from Pension Wise, so you can start planning your financial future long-term.
Info taken from Citizens Advice press release
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