Are your finances running free? How to take stock and take back control

By Julie Ryburn
In Home Loans

Christmas is over, the fridge is still full, and the credit card bills are starting to arrive. The financial hangover has officially kicked in and it’s time to face the monetary music. If you’re feeling like your finances have spiralled out of control and you want to make better decisions for the future – here’s how.

Get on top of your budget

The more you know about your money, the better decisions you will make – and the more financially responsible you will be. Free budgeting apps such as Mint or Pocketbook do the hard work for you by syncing data from your bank accounts, showing you exactly where and how you are spending your money. Once you understand where your money is going, then you can decide what changes need to be made. This budget calculator can help you do just that.

Consolidate your debt

Managing multiple credit cards can be incredibly stressful. For one easy bill each month, consider transferring your debt across to one card that offers the least interest on balance transfers. Alternatively, shop around for a single loan. Always use a licensed company, and check written terms carefully so that you don’t end up paying more in interest over a longer period. Be wary of using assets such as your home or car as security, and always talk to a professional before making any big decisions.

Avoid the sales!

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But straight after Christmas there is that terrible temptation to keep spending and snap up all those sale bargains. Think more about what you actually need – rather than what seems like a great deal. If you must hit the shops, try using hard cash instead of a card. It’s a stark reminder of what we are actually doing. Waving a piece of plastic around is horribly easy to do – and incredibly easy to forget.

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