Planning ahead to avoid the New Year blues!

Posted: 18th Jan 2016

by Rory McGimpsey

It’s that time of year where we’re all feeling the pinch a little after the Christmas celebrations. While many are glad to put the stress of the holidays behind them, the advent of a new year can also be a time when many debtors experience anxiety over their household budgets and finances. Such concern is only natural and is shared by most of us at this time of year (myself included!).

However, there are practical ways in which we can plan our finances for the upcoming year in a prudent, coherent and sensible way. As ever, Martin Lewis is on hand with priceless suggestions for whipping our finances into the best possible shape for 2016. While not all his tips are applicable for those in IVAs, quite a few of the ideas can save you precious pounds this year. Some of Martin’s more eye catching recommendations include renegotiating longstanding phone and internet contracts to eradicate unnecessarily high tariffs, and checking to see if you are on the correct tax code. One particularly interesting tip concerns the “Marriage Tax Allowance” that allows some married couples to transfer a proportion of their tax free earnings between them. No, I hadn’t heard of it either!

The full list of Martin’s New Year tips for managing your money in 2016 can be found here:

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/protect/2016/01/21-new-years-resolutions-thatll-save-1000s

According to many experts, the key to a stress free year is to plan and budget as much as possible. Prepare for anticipated expenses that may arise in 2016, as well as planning accordingly for the unexpected. The need to take a long term view is emphasised by Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Recent research published by CAB suggests that up to 33% of people could be missing out on substantial savings by not shopping around for better deals.  Part of the problem is that consumers often have a misplaced loyalty to their current provider. It’s not that necessarily customers aren’t open to change, but rather it simply hasn’t occurred to them to shop around for savings. By planning ahead and researching alternative options, clients can avail of cheaper products that can save money (without diminishing quality!). As Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy says:

“Planning your finances ahead can keep you in the black.” “Looking at how you spend your money and where you can trim back will help you plan a budget that meets your daily costs…..”

“It’s also important to shop around so you get the best deal on your household bills. Energy, broadband and mobile phone tariffs all vary widely, and paying over the odds for lots of bills can all add up. Suppliers need to present the options clearly, so people can make informed choices to keep their costs down.”

Citizens Advice is championing its “financial health check” for 2016 as a way of helping you save money. You can find out more here:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/media/press-releases/new-year-financial-health-check-could-save-hundreds-of-pounds-a-year/

Your expert Aperture advisor can also steer you in the right direction if you’re worrying about managing your household finances during the year. Massive change isn’t needed to budget more effectively, though; even the smallest alteration can have a profound impact. For example, cutting down on unnecessary and luxurious items can free up disposable income for essential bills. As always, it’s about distinguishing the priorities from the indulgences. For example, the BBC website advises consumers to avoid impulse buys and echoes Martin Lewis in recommending haggling with retailers for bargains. When all is said and done, what we all want for the new year is peace of mind that we’ll be able to afford the expenditure (planned and unplanned) that 2016 will bring. A new year can be daunting as well as exciting, but budgeting for the year ahead is a guaranteed way to relieve stress and banish those post-Christmas blues.

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