Tough times - local Credit Union has some vital financial advice
What are your new year’s resolutions? And just a couple of weeks into 2013, how many have you kept? Ballymena Credit Union is urging the local community to add a financial health check to that list, and with their help, maybe this is one resolution you won’t have to break!
Paul Patton, Manager of Ballymena Credit Union Ltd said: “A new year doesn’t have to mean unnecessary stress and debt. We are urging our members, and the local community to look at their finances, highlight where their money is going, and help people take those first steps towards effective budgeting and money management.
“Many of us continue to feel the impact of the recession – less income, thanks to job losses or reductions in pay or hours. Other factors, such as ill health, increased expenditure, or poor budgeting can mean that there simply isn’t enough money to go around. Whatever your circumstances, money difficulties can affect peoples’ health and overall wellbeing – rest assured, if you have money worries, you are not alone! Your credit union will try to give you some guidance on how to manage your finances in difficult times.”
No matter how big your problems are, facing up to them is the first, and most important step. There will not be an ‘easy’ solution to your money problems – but more often than not, debt problems can be resolved with time and effort. Our Money Management Tips, put together with the help of Financial Expert Frank Conway, aim to help people become more financially capable:
A dozen money management tips to keep your finances in shape in 2013
Track – always ask for and keep receipts.
Review – review your spend regularly. Make sure to keep questioning how, why and where you spend your hard earned money. Also use your bank statements to your advantage.
Structure- make sure you have visibility of your household budget. Keep a running list, by week or by month as this will give you the best visibility of how you spend your money.
Adjust – be prepared to sacrifice sacred cows, make sure you can pay priority expenses such as a mortgage and critical insurances, as well as heat, food and education. Phone bills are another cost, if you have a landline and several mobile phones, perhaps it is time to question if you really need all that connectivity.
Switch – when you know the detail and can get better value for money. Also, with insurances like home insurance, don’t just shop around for a better deal, see if the deal you currently have is over-insuring your current needs. Remember, home prices have dropped, so too should the level of protection you need. On life protection policies, if you have quit smoking, you should be able to secure a reduced premium...so don’t be afraid to get it.
Assert – if you think you have been wronged, know your rights. Use the agencies that have been set up to assist you. Here are some: The Consumer Council (www.consumercouncil.org.uk ), Advice NI (www.debtaction-ni.net ) and Citizens Advice Bureau (www.citizensadvice.co.uk )
Loyalty – don’t be. Loyalty to service providers may mean you could be paying over the odds for many services. Get to know the exact detail of that which you are paying for. Home insurance, car insurance, utility providers...know the plan and the detail. This will permit you to really shop for better value on the market.
Plan – plan ahead. If you plan to take a holiday next year, start saving now and don’t rely on credit card borrowings to fund your time away...you may be paying for it for the next 30 years.
Be prudent – make sure you plan for big spends...and little ones too. Also, keep your spending in line with your income.
Save – Get into a habit of savings even if its £5 – 10 per week. It’s important for your financial well-being. Savings, and teaching younger generations about the merits of savings, will reap long term benefits all round. Also, savings will serve to provide a valuable rainy day fund just for those unplanned expenses, such as a car repair.
Claim back – are you entitled to any form of tax relief? Check the HM Revenue and Customs website to see if you’re missing out at www.hmrc.gov.uk
Overpay minimum payments on credit cards – post Christmas spending blues could last a lot longer if you only make the minimum payments on your credit cards (minimum payments are designed to keep you locked in debt for a long time) So, make sure you pay off AT LEAST more than the minimum payment. Recent interest hikes to credit card costs make this one of the most expensive forms of credit, so the sooner to pay it off, the better off you will be financially. If your circumstances have changed, this may have affected your ability to meet your financial commitments. If you have borrowed with your credit union, contacting them early, and talking to them about your circumstances, will give them the best position to assess your situation, and offer guidance and assistance.
For further information, and help with managing your money, contact Ballymena Credit Union Ltd on 02825649010.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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