This is a guest post from Melanie Taylor, a finance expert in the UK.
Rising inflation, increasing gas and electricity bills, an unstable job market…. It seems that now, more than ever, falling into debt is a very real possibility for all kinds of people.
However, following a few of these practical tips could help you to keep on top of your finances and reduce the risk of ending up with debt problems.
1. Make a budget you can stick to.
Drawing up a successful budget is the first step in getting control of your finances. You should start by working out your total income and expenditures.
Your total income is everything your household earns or receives, including any benefits or income-related support. Your total expenditures are all the things your household needs to spend money on – essential living costs (such as food or utility bills) and any secured debts you may have, such as your mortgage.
If you take your total expenditures away from your total income, you’re left with your disposable income. This is the total amount you have available to spend on non-essentials every month.
2. Try to steer clear of credit.
Using credit cards can be a quick and easy way of paying for things, but you could quickly find yourself facing debt problems if you don’t keep on top of your repayments and any accruing interest.
You could avoid getting into bad habits by closing any store card accounts and cutting up any credit cards you have once you’ve paid them off. If you’re determined to stay debt-free, it’s important to avoid the temptation to spend money you don’t have.
If you already have unsecured debts such as credit cards and store cards that you’re struggling to repay, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible. You can get debt advice on this website.
3. Get support from friends.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to get support from friends and relatives to help you achieve your goals. If you know someone with similar goals, why not make a “pact” with them and help each other stay debt free?
A positive, can-do attitude can make all the difference in those times of temptation!
4. Why not rethink your spending habits?
It’s important to treat ourselves to the odd luxury once in awhile, but making this a budget-stretching habit can increase the risk of getting into debt.
Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it and why. If it’s particularly expensive, like a new TV or a designer clothing item, you could draw up a list of pros and cons to help you decide if it’s really worth the expense.
5. Consider starting a “savings pot.”
If, for any reason, you’re hit by an unexpected cost, such as car repairs or a particularly high phone bill, you could find yourself struggling to cover the cost.
If you can set aside some of your disposable income each month and put it into a “savings pot,” you’ll have a reliable fund you can dip into from time to time to keep your finances running smoothly.
And if you’re planning a holiday or another large expense, such as a new sofa, having a separate savings account to rely on can be a big help.