Improve your finances with a financial health check
Spring has sprung, the sun is shining. There’s no better time to spring clean your finances. Here, we’re sharing 10 tips to improve your finances. Also, at East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau, you can speak to the Money Talk Team for free. So let’s get your finances in shape.
10 things you can do now
1. Get to know your finances
First thing’s first, you need to get a clear overview of your income and outgoings. Simply print out your monthly bank statements and make a note of income, like your wages or salary and any benefits. Then make a separate list of all your expenses, such as food, bills and loans. This is your starting point, which you can use to work out a budget.
2. Check if you’re eligible for support
It’s important that you’re getting all the help you’re entitled to. You can check the Scottish Government’s Benefit Support Guide. Or, if you need any further assistance, you can chat to us for more benefits advice.
3. Understand your debts
Make sure you have a full list of your debts, such as mortgages, loans and credit cards and the interest rates you’re paying. We can help you make a plan for dealing with debt and working out what to deal with first. Look to maximise your income and learn where you are losing money. Start here with our income maximisation survey:
4. Get the best deals
Now, look through your outgoings and ensure you are on the best deals with your suppliers. For example mobile phone contracts, insurance, TV and internet services and energy companies. You can contact them individually and ask if there are any discounts or better contracts available.
5. Switch suppliers
Sometimes it’s better to switch to a new, cheaper supplier. Keep a note of when your current deals expire and then shop around for a better price elsewhere. Price comparison sites can be useful for this, but please speak to us if you need any help at all.
6. Cancel unused subscriptions
Check your list of expenses. If there are things you don’t need anymore, perhaps a subscription for a magazine you never read or a gym membership you don’t have time for, cancel them.
7. Shop smart
Your food shop is a major outgoing. So consider trying lower cost brands, such as supermarket own brands, or going to a cheaper shop. Plan your meals in advance, so you don’t buy more than you need. And with all purchases, look out for special offers, shop around for the best deals and always stay within your budget.
8. Open a savings account
Savings are important. They help you plan for the future and protect you in case of a financial emergency. Having a separate bank account for savings stops you accidentally dipping into them, and you may be able to get a better interest rate. Set up a standing order so that you are saving something into it every month. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, even a small percentage of your income adds up over time.
9. Be Pension Wise
When you retire, you’ll need money to support you. Most people get a State Pension, but it’s also good to have your own pension for extra funds. Find out about the different pension options available and speak to us if you need advice.
10. Chat to the Money Talk Team for free
The Money Talk Team at Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with all kinds of financial issues and concerns. For example, helping you switch energy or mobile phone suppliers to save money, or offering benefits advice to those unsure if they are eligible for benefits like disability or carers allowance. Download our Financial Health Check Leaflet for more information.
Free, confidential advice
Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for a chat about your finances. East Dunbartonshire residents can contact us here. Our Money Talk Team is specially trained to ensure you get expert advice. Advice is free and confidential – and our team members are always positive and friendly. Visit the Money Talk Team website for more information.Contact us