With Christmas coming now is the time to check your finances

How do you know you’re in financial trouble?

​Why do so many of us overstretch our finances at Christmas? We never seem to learn!

Social and personal pressure forces us to spend too much on presents, food and entertainment.

If you are worried about your financial future, it’s probably time to take control of your outgoings.

Firstly have a look at your monthly budget.

​This is quite easy, take a look at all the outgoings in your bank account and credit card(s), and split them into:

1. Monthly essentials e.g. mortgage, food, utility bills, insurance, etc, and
2. Other spend e.g. buying clothes, entertainment, etc,

​Then add each column up to give you your overall monthly spend.

Then have a look at your incoming finances e.g. salary, rental income, pension, etc and compare the two.

If the outgoings are significantly more than your income then you may on a path to possible financial disaster.

So what can you do about it?

If your debt is manageable then some easy changes can help put you back on track.

  1. Check your energy supplier(s), you could save £££’s a year by switching to a more competitive company or simply lowering the tariff with your existing supplier.
  2. Check if you are eligible for free cavity wall and/or loft insulation, this can save you £££’s per year in energy savings.
  3. Make some changes when you go food shopping. Go on your own if possible (to avoid being persuaded to buy items you don’t need or want). Take a list and do not deviate from it. Try the ‘Downshift Challenge’  i.e. move down one product level e.g. Premium to Branded, Branded to Own Brand, or Own Brand to Value (remember when buying animal products, this may come at a cost to animal welfare!). If you drop a brand level on everything you buy and you’ll usually cut the bill by about 30%. If a family’s weekly shop is £100 then that’s a saving of £1,560 a year. Even if you only drop half the brands, that’s still a saving of £780 a year.
  4. Check all your insurance policies, including car insurance, buildings insurance and home contents insurance to see if you can find a lower cost deal, if you are stretched for time simply visit a couple of comparison web-sites and let them do the work for you.
  5. Try and control your home heating. For every 1.5°C you reduce the temperature you reduce your bill by 10%. An extra sweater works just as well as turning up the thermostat. Only heat the rooms that are occupied, what is the point in heating an empty bedroom?
  6. ​Make simple lifestyle changes and you can save £££’s! Try reducing your time in the shower, minimising use of the tumble dryer, turning the lights off in unoccupied rooms, walking the kids to school, etc, etc.

At EcoFrenzy we provide dozens of simple ideas to help you save money.

Deeper debt problems

If you are deeper in debt, the ideas above will help but may not drag you out of the mire. In this instance it may be worth speaking to a debt management organisation offering free advice, such as those listed here.


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