Do you know how much money you have in your bank account? What about your credit cards – how much money do you currently owe? If you are unsure on one or both accounts, it might be a good idea to get back on top of your financial situation. Doing this can help to give you a certain clarity about how much you can afford to spend, and how much you need to keep by throughout the month
Now could be the perfect time to make this your resolution; you might find that this time next year that you are on top of your finances and have made some further achievable goals if you stay on the right track. This could be anything from buying a new property, car, or even paying for university education without the assistance of a loan.
Whatever it is that you want to benefit from; here are a few suggestions about what you could do now to improve your handle on your finances:
Read statements and assess balances
It is likely that you receive bank, credit card and store card statements, whether they come through the postal system or can be checked online. Ask yourself whether you honestly take enough time to read through them, or if you do this at all. It is one of the tasks that people ‘put off until later’ but often end up in the drawer without even being opened. There are numerous reasons to do the job thoroughly, such as verifying that all payments have been made by you, seeing whether there are any direct debits that you need to cancel, and also just checking what your current balances are.
Remember to make payments
A store or credit card statement will let you know what you need to pay that month (called a ‘minimum payment’) as well as how much you currently owe. It is up to you to decide what you can afford to pay, but remember that paying the smallest allowable amount could leave you with accumulating large amounts of interest on your account. Regardless of what you can pay, just ensure you do at least meet the minimum payment, and do it on time – you don’t want to be charged an additional fee.
Find alternative options
If you find the administration of having multiple lines of credit a nuisance, you could look into a debt consolidation loan. The idea behind this is that you will end up paying money to one creditor instead of a handful of them; this is generally an option considered by those who are paying credit card companies at least 16 percent interest, as a loan could offer lower rate. If you are interested in learning more about debt consolidation, you could have a look at loans available from Zopa.
Another traditional way to get to grips with your finances is to cut unnecessary spending. If you pay off your cards, could you cancel one or two so you aren’t tempted to use them? Alternatively, look at ways to spend less on the things you do need to buy such as groceries and energy in the home. The Money Advice Service could be a good place to start as they have lots of suggestions on their website.