Welcome to the final one of our 12 Christmas Blogs. We have looked at lots of different subjects including coping with the stresses of Christmas, recipe ideas, debt, savings and New Year’s resolutions. See them all here.
So Christmas 2016 is over. New Year’s celebrations are done. You may have had a great time (or not) with your nearest and dearest. Yet for many the reality will soon start setting in as the bank/credit card statements arrive and hearts sink. This is what will face most of us this January. Months of paying for Christmas 2016 not giving us the chance to save money and prepare for Christmas 2017 (Sorry! I know that sounds scary!)
So what can we do to improve things? What can make things easier for not only the following few months but also for next Christmas and beyond? Well, we’ve put together a few tips. They won’t all work for everyone… you need to find what works for you and just go for it!
1. Stop overpaying!
Many of us are overpaying on our household bills… the boring but the necessary! Why not set yourself a challenge to spend January trying to reduce your regular outgoings? From your mortgage costs (not so easy I know if you’re renting ), to your credit card bills, as well as gas, electric, and broadband bills. Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert website would be an excellent place for you to start!
2. Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to!
From benefits to PPI payments to the correct wages.
Citizens Advice & Turn2Us
Many people, in particular the vulnerable and elderly don’t claim the benefits they are entitled to. Either they don’t know what they are entitled to or they just don’t know how to claim them. Two organisations who offer free benefits checks and support on how to claim benefits are the Citizens Advice and Turn2Us.
Citizens Advice can offer a face to face appointment with an adviser, or information over the phone and online.
Turn2Us can do a benefits check over the phone for you or they have a website where you can do it for yourself.
PPI or Payment Protection Insurance was sold to many of us in the past when we had loans, credit cards, store cards, car finance, catalogues. It turned out that the insurance was worthless so we shouldn’t have paid it. Many of us will have already claimed this insurance back and received a refund. However, many people still haven’t and the clock is ticking!
Are you one of those people? Perhaps you’re not sure if you did pay PPI? Perhaps you’re unsure about how to go about claiming it back? Martin Lewis (yep him again ) has written a clear guide on how to do it. You don’t need a company, who then go on to have a share of your refund, to do it for you. Read his guide, perhaps get a friend to help and get applying! What have you got to lose? A nice cheque for a few hundred or even thousand pounds could help you sort out those Christmas debts.
Wages, Tax & Discrimination
Also, consider your wages. Are you paying the correct amount of tax? Are you due a tax rebate? It’s well worth looking into these things as of course mistakes do happen,
And finally, are you being paid fairly? Are you being paid at least the minimum wage? Take a look at the UK Government website. It’ll tell you exactly what you should be being paid.
If you’re a woman, are you being paid the same as a man who is doing the same job as you? If not, this is discrimination. Sadly some organisations, even in this day and age, do think that discrimination is acceptable. Have a read about discrimination. Citizens Advice’ Guide has lots of useful information and advice on the subject.
3. Try and increase your income!
Not so easy I know but certainly not impossible
- Maybe now is the time to apply for a promotion in work, or ask for a pay rise? Or move jobs?
- Have you got a garage or parking space you could rent out?
- Get selling! Most of us are guilty of holding on to things we don’t really want or need anymore. Car boot sales, auction sites, friends, family… one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
- Start doing surveys! Earn cash transferred straight to your PayPal account. Or swap your survey points for high street vouchers.
And finally, having done all of this and hopefully being in a better financial situation, start thinking about planning for next Christmas.
If you can…
- Maybe think about saving your coppers. It’ll soon build up and by the end of the year you might have enough saved to buy your Christmas veg!
- Use all the vouchers you’ve earned for high street retailers by doing surveys to buy some presents through the year.
- See if your local butcher has a savings club and pay in a regular amount every time you get paid. If you only paid in £5 a month or £1 a week by the time December comes you’d have plenty saved for your turkey.
- If you shop in Tesco save your Clubcard vouchers to use for your Christmas food shop – Every Little Helps 😉
- Make presents and cards ready for Christmas. Parents and Grandparents in particular LOVE anything that’s been made by their children/grandchildren!
- Save a regular amount each month to help pay for Christmas.This will help avoid those scary bills in January or at the very least help reduce them.
Other ideas to try
1. Perhaps set up a regular payment into a savings account with your bank.
2. You could consider buying Premium Bonds through the year. There is no restriction on withdrawing the money you have invested so although you have to invest a minimum of £100 every time you buy them, you also get a chance at winning something. Who knows, you could get lucky!
3. Maybe think about joining a Credit Union. They are an alternative to a bank. The idea is that the members benefit as there are no shareholders and as such no shareholder profits. They are for everyone but are particularly useful for people who are struggling financially and can’t get access to ordinary bank products.They are an excellent alternative to payday loans and doorstep lending.
Read more on Credit unions below and check out if there’s one in your area…
- MoneySavingExpert – Credit Unions (Thanks again Martin!)
- Find Your Credit Union
- Credit Unions Of Wales
Happy New Year!