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New Year Resolutions 10 January 2013

This time of year is traditionally when we “take stock” and perhaps think about making changes in the forthcoming year. Instead of sticking with the old favourites of “I’m going to take more exercise”, “I’m going to give up smoking” or “I’m going to lose weight”. How about doing something different this year? Make your resolution to get your finances in order. Here are some suggestions of where to start:

Be organised

If you did take out some kind of credit at Christmas, or even over the last year, January is traditionally a tough time for all of us. Ensure that you don’t miss any payments or make a payment late as this can be very costly.

Get your spending in order

Make this year the one to really get a grip on your finances. Keep track of your expenditure every week or every month to help you make the most of your income and enable you to budget more effectively. You could make use of your mobile phone, spreadsheet or the Office of Fair Trading budget planner:

Open and read your bank statements

It sounds obvious but for many of us these just get thrown into a bag or a drawer. It may be a scary prospect but if you are determined to get your finances on track this year it is crucial. Also you may find that there are direct debits being paid which you no longer need or even remember what they were for! You could be wasting money by not making this simple check.

Not more shopping

If you can bear it and your budget allows, the sales can be a good time to look at buying birthday presents for friends and family over the coming months. Many shops will have big reductions, especially on toys and homeware for example. You may pick up something that you know someone would really love that perhaps had just been a bit out of your price range previously.

Likewise there are some bargains to be had on Christmas food which you may be able to freeze for later in the year. Also, decorations and cards and wrapping paper are often heavily reduced which could be stored for use at a later date. After all, Christmas comes around again every year!

And finally

If having considered all of these and the numbers don’t add up – get help! The OFT is there to give advice and help to people at any time during the year. The Debt Counsellors offer one-to-one support with managing debt. If preferred, people can access a self-help guide on the Money Management, Debt Counselling page of the Office website

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