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“If you would like to know the value of money, go and try to borrow some.” – Benjamin Franklin
The number of people seeking advice because they were struggling with mortgage repayments and other household bills surged in the first two months of this year, and the rising cost of living could force many more people into insolvency, charities warned today. Citizens Advice said its bureaux in England and Wales had seen a 35% increase in the number of cases involving mortgage arrears, compared with the same period last year.
A survey of 73% of its offices found debt counsellors had dealt with 215,000 new debt cases in January and February alone, many of them involving people struggling to keep up rising living costs.
“I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.” – ee cummings
So, we are all suffering a little from credit crunch induced stress, with inflated prices in petrol and food, below inflation pay rises, higher rate mortgages etc. It can be a stressful and uncertain time. We have included some tips here to help you through this ‘belt-tightening’ time and to give you a little bit of control over your finances.
Giving up your daily latte might save you £520 a year!
Every small purchase adds up over time. Buying a latte, muffin, morning paper or weekly magazine can add up over time. A latte costing £2 a day, 5 days a week, could add up to £520 a year!!
Save by making your own lunch
You can save by changing your habits and organising your lunch at home; A daily sandwich/ packet of crisps and drink can cost up to £5, 5 times a week, 52 weeks a year, that’s a total of £1,300!
Stop Throwing and start using (leftovers)
Whether it’s a roasted chicken or leftover pizza, try to make the effort to use up your leftovers. If you’re serious about cracking the credit crunch, getting rid of the throwaway lifestyle is a major step to combating it.
Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free deals on essentials, such as bread (which can be frozen), toothpaste, deodorant, washing up liquid, washing powder, tins etc. By being selective with your purchases you can save considerably in the short-term.
Cut down car use
If it’s possible, you could try cycling to work, walking to the shops, or even car-pooling. The price of oil is hitting a record high and some say that these are due to soar further still. By making small changes and thinking before hopping in the car you can save on these costs.
Turn it off!
Be energy efficient: always turn off the lights when you leave a room; make sure your appliances aren’t left on standby; turn your thermostat down by one degree; turn your washing machine to 30º or 40º; use the shortest wash on your dishwasher. Over time these little steps will add up to considerable savings on your energy bills.
Shower instead of bath
On average a shower saves between 3-4 gallons of water compared to a bath, and uses much less energy to heat the water. If you can’t do without your bath, cut it down to 1 or 2 baths a week, and treat yourself with some (bogof) bubbles!
Reduce the nights out
By reducing your nights out ‘on the town’ you will see a considerable saving and you can always invite your friends to your home, thus saving on the inflated bar, club and restaurant costs.
Test your Utilities
Shop around and see if you could be saving money on your landline, or your energy bills. It is always worthwhile to check on a regular basis to see if switching can save you.
Do I need it? Will I use it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere? You should always answer these three questions before you even think about flexing that credit card. Try shopping online for the big purchases, using sites such as pricerunner.co.uk, and kelkoo.co.uk to help you find the cheapest deals.
Keep a daily finance diary
Try keeping a finance diary for a whole month for every spend you make, and keep all of your receipts so you can see where exactly your money is going. If you’re handy with technology you could even create a spreadsheet. You may be surprised at just how much money you waste every month on that latter, sandwich, night out.
Make your credit status better for better rates
If you do tend to miss a payment here and there, then direct debit and standing orders would combat this – at least it will take the stress of missed payments, and will give you a clearer picture of what ‘disposable’ income is left. Take care not to have too many credit cards on the go. You could condense them into one and concentrate hard on clearing your debt. You could look much more appealing to a potential lender by choosing this option.
Knowledge is Power – Check your credit report
Find out about your financial situation, payment history etc. It is imperative this reads accurately to put you in with the best opportunity to be approved for whichever financial facility you require. If there are any inaccuracies on your report, you should contact the relevant companies direct to correct this. Remember, even a small mistake could deter a potential lender from offering you a loan. Ensure you are registered to vote at your current address. This simple thing can add valuable points to your credit score.