The new year is a great time for setting yourself some personal goals, whether to get fitter, eat more healthily or even learn a new skill. But why not make 2023 the year you also get your finances under control? If you’re in need of a financial health kick, here are five simple resolutions to set you on the path to success…
1. Improve your credit score
A low credit rating can prevent you from being approved for future credit, limiting your options at a time when your budget may already be tight. There are a few simple ways to boost your score, such as:
- Make sure you’re registered on the electoral roll to prove your current address.
- Remove ex-partners’ names from bank accounts, rent agreements and credit cards.
- Pay your bills on time, including utility bills, credit cards and even subscription services like Netflix.
- Don’t apply for too much credit in a short space of time.
- Check your credit report for any errors such as a misspelt name or incorrect address – you can find yours here.
2. Set yourself a budget – and stick to it!
Work out how much money you have left each month after paying your essential bills and debts. Use bank statements, payslips, credit card bills and receipts for anything you pay for in cash to help you to do this. Then, divide the remainder into a weekly amount, to ensure you’re not left short at the end of the month. Review your budget once each week and refer back to it before making any non-essential purchases, to check you can afford them. There are plenty of budgeting tools available online to help you get started, such as this one from National Debtline.
3. Take control of your debt
If you’re in danger of falling behind on your debt repayments or regularly exceeding your agreed overdraft amount, then it’s important to act now:
- Face facts by listing out all your debts so you know exactly how much you owe and to whom.
- Make a note of payment deadlines so you don’t miss any, to avoid getting charged a late fee.
- Try to make the minimum payment so you don’t incur further charges.
- Don’t ignore your creditors or bury your head in the sand – the problem won’t go away if you ignore it and may actually get worse.
4. Talk to your creditors
It can be tough to admit that you’re going through a difficult time. But it’s far better to work with the companies you owe money to by letting them know what’s happening as soon as you can – simply making contact won’t affect your credit score.
Inform them straight away if your circumstances have changed, affecting your ability to keep up with repayments, such as job loss, divorce or illness. Call, email or write to each company you owe money to and ask if you can arrange a new repayment plan, explaining your situation and including a copy of your budget. They can then help you come up with a new plan that can better support you during a time of crisis.
5. Limit your gambling spend
Problem gambling affects around 430,000 people in the UK, disrupting their life and the life of those around them. If you feel that you or someone you’re close to is betting more than you or they can afford, then it’s time to take action. Get in touch with GamCare for gambling support on 0808 8020 133.