A lot of people these days are financially illiterate which means that many of them are unable to cope with certain financial basics.
A crucial foundation of a healthy financial life is to make sure that you know how to budget your funds to ensure that they are sustainable.
A lot of people often make the mistake of only thinking about their pension when they are nearing retirement, and this can mean they are unprepared.
Keeping your finances in order is always going to be a huge challenge. The fact that you may have a limited source of income could be a huge challenge.
Being young and still trying to find your footing in the world, you will find that managing your finances can be a little bit of a challenge. You may not yet hold a very stable and lucrative job, and you may even find yourself trying to make ends meet most of the time.
You cannot expect to have stable finances just by simply hoping the best outcome every time. You will need to take the reins in your hands and be more proactive at how you are trying to get your earnings on the right track.
Different credit cards each offer individual advantages and disadvantages, meaning you should think carefully about which one would suit your spending habits and credit situation. This can be difficult, but these questions should help you towards picking the card that’s right for you.
Can you Pay Back What You Spend Each Month?
If you can pay your credit card company back the money you have spent each month, you can take advantage of the interest free period and worry much less about the rate of interest on whichever card you choose.
This means you can look at cards which might have higher interest rates but also come with rewards or cashback. Cashback means you get back a percentage of what you’ve spent, usually in an annual payment. Rewards other than cashback can range from air miles to shopping vouchers or specific merchandise.
Do You Already Have Debts?
If you are already in debt, some credit cards could help you get out of that situation. Several credit cards have 0% offers, meaning you pay no interest for several months, which could temporarily reduce pressure and make it easier to pay your debts.
In the case of credit card debt, then a balance transfer can be used to transfer the debt from one card to another. If your new card has a lower interest rate than your old one it can make your debt much easier to clear. Find out more about clearing credit card debt here.
Credit cards can also be used to pay off overdrafts or loans. Money transfer cards allow you to put money from the card directly into your bank account, meaning you have much more flexibility to use the money than with other types of credit card. This can allow you to pay off debts such as loans or overdrafts or to make major purchases that you could otherwise not use a credit card for.
Do You Have a Poor Credit Score?
Whether a card provider will accept your application depends on the information in your credit report, including what you currently owe and if you have made or missed repayments, and your personal information, such as age and income.
If you have a bad credit report some credit card providers may reject you, but there are cards designed for people in your situation. These cards often have a higher rate of interest and a lower credit limit, which is the amount you can owe on any one card at a time. Applying and being rejected for credit cards shows up negatively on your credit report so try to be realistic and apply to providers who are more likely to accept you.
Using these cards can eventually improve your credit score and can make it possible for you to be accepted for cards with lower rates or rewards. You can do this by staying within your credit limit and paying your balance in full and on time. Avoid making cash withdrawals as these often have high interest rates attached and can damage your credit report.
Some cards may even improve their own rates over time if you are a reliable customer.
Do You Travel Overseas Often?
While all credit cards can be used abroad, there are several extra fees which can hit you hard if you don’t pick the right card.
Transaction fees are the fees charge by your provider for spending in a foreign currency, while withdrawal fees are what you are charged when you withdraw cash abroad. You will also be charged interest as soon as you withdraw your cash, so these fees mount up.
There are credit cards designed to be used abroad, with no transaction fees, no withdrawal fees and a lower than usual rate of interest on withdrawals. If you are someone who spends a lot of time abroad, it might be that getting one of these cards would be the right choice for you.
When taking your credit card abroad you should also always remember to let your provider know in advance, otherwise it can look suspicious and your card may be stopped.
Do You Run Your Own Business?
Business credit cards can make the running of a business much smoother and help you to control your cash flow while also keeping your business and personal finances separate.
A business credit card has several benefits, from the fact employees can use business credit cards to pay work expenses to being able to pay for supplies before money comes in, for example while waiting for a customer to pay a bill.
Business cards differ from ordinary cards in that, rather than being assessed on your own details, the card provider will accept or deny your application based on the company’s assets and credit history. If you are a sole trader, they may also consider your finances. Some providers do only provide cards for businesses with a certain level of income.
Are You a Student?
Many credit card providers offer cards specifically catering to students. These cards treat your student loan in the same way as other cards would treat a regular wage. They do, however, have a higher interest rate than most other credit cards.
While these cards are designed specifically for students, it can be financially dangerous to have one of these cards, as debts are liable to build up if you do not manage the card carefully.
On the other hand, it can be useful to have a credit card as a student, as it can help you to build up your credit report. Often you can keep the same card after graduation, with a lower rate of interest and a higher credit limit if you have been a reliable customer.
Millions of people all around the world are in debt. Sometimes it is very manageable, but sometimes it can be a real struggle. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is a formal, legal solution called an ‘IVA’, which is designed to help you if you are one of the people who need a bit of help. There is an alternative, called a Protected Trust Deed, in Scotland.
This guide will tell you all the essentials you need to understand if you are considering using an IVA to help with your debts. But, if you want more information, and to become a true IVA-expert, you can try this website to find out more.
What is an IVA?
An ‘Individual Voluntary Arrangement’ is a debt solution which allows you to consolidate all your unsecured debts into one, affordable payment, without needing to take out another loan. You work with a qualified professional called an Insolvency Practitioner to come up with an agreement across 5 or 6 years. After this period, any remaining debts will be written off. This could be as much as 70% of your debts!
How does it work?
What makes an IVA such a great option?
An IVA is a fantastic solution for your debt problems for a huge variety of reasons, but most of all:
Is the IVA perfect?
We won’t lie to you and tell you that IVAs are perfect for everyone. Like everything, there are drawbacks to using an IVA:
What is life like with an IVA?
Once you have your IVA, hopefully, your quality of life should improve. Your creditors should stop calling you and knocking on your door, and having a set monthly payment should let you budget much more effectively.
In terms of maintaining your IVA, you will be required to participate in an annual review. This will require you to submit documentation, such as bank statements and payslips. Payments into your IVA can go up, or down, and this documentation will help decide if your circumstances have changed.
However, it is also important to tell your IVA provider when you circumstances change, rather than waiting for the review. This is because you may end up with back-dated extra payments to make if, for example, it turns out you got a promotion in February, but your review was in November. That would be 9 months of catch-up payments that you would be expected to make, which could be very difficult if you have already spent the money.
Generally, it is important that you keep your provider up-to-date with all financial changes in your life. This might be moving house, discovering further debts, or having a child. It may not always be possible, but monthly payments could be reduced if your circumstances change and you are struggling once again.
The idea of budgeting is enough to fill many of us with dread. If numbers aren’t your thing, the idea of planning out every expense month after month can seem draining, but fear not – budgeting doesn’t have to mean obsessively counting every penny, it’s just about finding the method that works for you. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from – below are some popular budgeting solutions you might want to try.
The 50:20:30 Budget
Rather than budgeting for each individual expense, this budget involved spending a set percentage on your income on three different categories: needs, savings and wants. 50% of your income is set aside for necessitates, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, and basic food, 20% is spent on savings or paying off debts, and the remaining 30% is spent on ‘wants’, such as eating out or buying new clothes.
This can be a good solution if you want to achieve greater control over your spending but don’t want to count every individual expense. Having only three categories to think about can simplify the budget, making it easier to keep track overall. If you decide to try this budgeting method, you might want to be careful not to overspend, and be careful about which expenses go into which category.
The Cash Only Budget
This budget does exactly what it says on the tin. If you find yourself splashing the plastic more than you would like, this could be the right budget for you. It involves withdrawing cash for each expense, and organising it into different envelopes or jars. For example, when you go food shopping, you only take the ‘food’ envelope with you, to ensure you have no choice but to stick to your budget.
Only spending cash can be a good solution if you find it difficult to keep track of credit and debit card transactions, since you can literally see how much money you’ve spent, and how much remains. People who are prone to overspending might find this type of budgeting helpful. However, if you tend to lose physical cash, it might be better not to risk it, and try an alternative method. This budget also takes a certain amount of self-discipline, so as not to borrow from one envelope to increase spending on luxuries.
The Zero-Based Budget
In the zero-based budget, each and every pound has a job. If you enjoy micromanaging your funds, this could be the budget for you. The object of this budget is to end up with an account balance of zero at the end of every month, by using all of your income. Disposable income is put towards savings or debts first, then, finally, non-essential or fun spending. Budgeting in this way ensures that your savings grow, as you are forced to transfer a set amount into a separate account rather than let it sit in your current account and risk being spent. On the other hand, a budget such as this leaves very little wriggle room for accidental overspending or emergencies. It might be a good idea to leave a small amount of money in your account as a sort of buffer. If you are prone to overspending or impulsivity, this might not be the right budget for you.
The 60% Solution
This budget can work well for people with a slightly higher income. It consists of spending 60% of your income on all bills, rather than breaking them down individually and leaving the remaining 40% for other expenses. The solution recommends splitting this 40% between a retirement fund, short-term savings, long-term savings, and ‘fun money’.
If your bills come to more than 60% of your total income, this might not be the budget for you. However, it is possible to adjust the percentages to fit your own needs. For example, if essential bills account for 80% of your income, you might spend 5% on each of the four suggested categories instead, or rejig your spending until it is sustainable. This budget can prove a good option as it removes the necessity of accounting for every little expense whilst still allowing you to keep track of your spending and build up savings.
“No budget?” I hear you cry! But, unlikely as it may seem, some people manage their money better without a formal budget in place. By checking your account every day, and spending and saving on a daily basis, you can manage your money dynamically. This can be a great option if you’re not prone to overspending, and want a solution which allows for flexibility. It can be better for building up savings than some formal budgets too, since during months where your overall spending is lower, you can decide to dedicate a greater amount of cash to savings accounts.
Do what’s right for you
Of course, no two people are the same, and any of these budgets can be adapted to better suit your needs. Whichever solution you choose, keeping track of your income and outgoings is the single best thing you can do to improve your financial situation.
For more information about how you can use budgeting, and other solutions, to help pay off your debts, click here.
The running of a home can be expensive, especially if we are part of a family. However, many of us may be paying more than we need to in relation to our household bills. When it comes to service providers, it’s often the case that we stick with what we know rather than explore other options.
Regardless of whether you’re currently paying for gas and electric, or cable television, you will often find that there is a better deal out there if you’re willing to do the groundwork.
Can You Cut the Cord?
Although cable and satellite TV providers may have access to unique television channels, many may find that in the long run, they are paying for a service they rarely use. If you make full use of your current subscription, then there may be little need for you to change. However, in some instances, many find that they are paying out a vast amount of money each month for programming they don’t even watch.
There are plenty of alternatives available, which could prove to be cheaper than your current subscription. For example, Netflix has found traction with a global user base, due to its cost-effective pricing and of late, access to unique programming.
Similarly, you may find that you just need access to a device that is able to convert your television over to the digital signal. While there may be a small investment required, it will be much cheaper than paying a service provider.
The option you choose depends on your personal circumstances, but if you have a reliable broadband connection, there are plenty of options available.
Reducing Your Grocery Bill
There’s no denying that the cost of living can be deemed expensive, but there are ways that we can look to trim the cost of food and other necessities. Many of us will send too much money because we carry out our shipping within one particular store. Sure, this is more convenient, but the end game here is to reduce the amount we’re paying when it comes to our household bills.
Refining your bargain hunting skills may take some time, but sometimes it’s easy as exploring your local city centre. While some stores will do a lot to keep their costs down, there will often be a cheaper alternative elsewhere.
For example, if you find that you spend a lot on toiletries, then it may be worth seeking out a store that specialises in such goods, often at a cheaper price point. There are also a plethora of bargain stores that can offer some real rewards for the more eagle-eyed shoppers.
Take More Control of Your Energy Costs
Energy costs can often be among the most expensive, and this can be due to us not being able to monitor what we’re using. Fortunately, the world of technology has allowed us to have more control over the energy we use thanks to smart meters.
Rather than give customers an estimate of the energy they’re using, they will offer an accurate reading that will allow you to make changes where necessary. Having access to this information will spur you on to ensure that people are not wasting energy, thus reducing your expenditure in the process.
Leave Temptation at Home
When out and about, temptation lurks at every turn. Having access to a debit or credit card means that we are more susceptible to impulse buying. If you find that this is the case, then it may be worth using hard cash and leaving your cards at home.
If we only have a set amount of cash on us, and no access to debit or credit cards, it’s less likely that we will make an unnecessary purchase.
Do You Need Your Landline?
To many, a landline is a necessity. To others, it’s merely something that they feel they need. Although the cost of a landline is relatively low, it’s still an expense that can be curbed if what we’re paying for is of no use to us.
The way mobile technology has evolved means that more and more of us are starting to rely on our mobile phone when it comes to contacting others.
If you find that your landline telephone is doing nothing other than collecting dust, then why not omit it completely and make some savings.
Take It Easy on the Takeaways
Let’s be honest, if we’re working long hours, then a takeaway can be a godsend when it comes to getting fed quickly. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive, especially if we find that we’re relying on them more and more.
While preparing a meal can mean more work on your part, it’s much more cost-effective than ordering a takeaway, and probably healthier. If you find you’re too tired in the evening to cook a meal, then why not do some prep work in the working.
It may seem like an ordeal in the first instance, but once you gain momentum it will become second nature, and will allow you to make a series of savings along the way.
Do You Need to Move?
While we would all like to live in the perfect area, there are times when we just to have to face facts. The truth is that more affluent areas can be overwhelming for some, and can become stuck in a rut as a result.
While the prospect of moving to something smaller is hardly a pleasurable experience, it’s something worth considering if you find that your household bills are just too march. Larger properties can cost more to heat, and the rent can also be expensive. These are factors that need consideration when deliberating as to whether moving home is the right choice.
Changing our spending habits can be difficult and can take a lot of work. However, once we’ve carried out the legwork, there’s very little reason as to why you shouldn’t see your household expenditure decrease over time.
While some of us may be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, others may not be so fortunate. In some instances, one of the hardest things to come to term with is changing our lifestyle due to unforeseen circumstances. Many of us can experience some form of financial difficulty, but in some instances, there will be those who choose to ignore the issues and carry on with the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to, on the assumption that things will improve.
While a positive outlook is to be commended, it is important that we can recognise any problems that could cause us problems in the future.
Your Credit Card Bills Are Becoming Higher
There’s no denying how convenient a credit card can be, but it’s important that they’re used in the right way, otherwise they can cause us problems moving forward. If you find that you’re relying on your credit card more and more, then it may be a good idea to review your current expenditure.
It may take some willpower and some may find it difficult, but the alternative outcome is much worse. If you were to fall behind on credit card payments, then it’s likely you will be paying interest, along with any other fees. This can also mean that there is less money available for other bills.
A good start to establish as to whether you’re using your credit card too much is to look at the purchases being made. Red flags can be using the credit card for frequent groceries and the payment of bills.
You Have No Access to Savings
While the concept of saving can be hard for some households, many will look to find a way. While many can assume that they’re likely to fall victim to any surprise bills, none of us truly know what’s around the corner. Sure, we can look towards a credit card or loan should we need access to a large sum of money, but this method can cost us more as a result.
If you find that there isn’t enough to set aside, then it may be worth reviewing your current expenditure to see if any cutbacks can be made to help build a stronger financial foundation for the future.
You Find You Are Frequently Borrowing from Friends and Family
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been cut short and turn to friends and family. However, if you’re finding you have to ask those close to you on a regular basis, then a reshuffle of your finances could be in order.
Friends and family are often only too happy to help those close to them in times of need, but it’s important that we’re able to recognise that a problem exists. If you find that you’re frequently asking to borrow money, it’s important that you get to the root of the problem.
To do this, look at the reason why you’re borrowing the money, and then backtrack from there. Was it because of a shortfall, or did you decide to make a luxurious purchase on the assumption that other money would arrive.
Continuously asking friends and family to borrow you money not only causes friction, but there is also a danger than you could be making your current financial situation worse.
Bills Are Often Paid Late
There will always be a time when we miss a bill, it’s part of human nature. Bills can fall on a selection of different dates, and the whole ordeal can be a little difficult to track. However, taking our eye off the ball can mean that we’re not only subjected to more charges, but damaging our credit score in the process.
If your bills are rarely paid on the due date, then it’s important that a budget is drawn up as soon as possible. This means separating your luxury purchases away from your essentials, and then ensuring that you have the income to meet the payment dates. If you find that you’re not receiving enough income, then you will need to speak to the relevant companies to see if a solution can be put in place.
For example, if you’re currently playing a lot for your mobile phone contract, but don’t make full use of the package you have, then it could be worthwhile inquiring as to whether any cheaper tariffs are available
In some instances, you may just concur that some of the expenses you have need to be cut free. While this can be difficult, you need to remember that it doesn’t have to be forever, you just need to ensure you’re taking control of the current situation.
You Can’t Afford the Daily Essentials
It’s one thing to cut out the cigarettes or coffee from our life, but something else when it comes to our daily needs. If you currently find that there little left over for the daily essentials such as bread and milk, then it’s important you work out your income and expenditure as soon as possible.
There can be several reasons as to why you’re struggling, and it’s not always due to overspending. If you’ve recently started a new job, then it’s possible you could be paying too much tax due to an incorrect tax code. Similarly, you could be entitled to benefits you didn’t know about.
Getting our finances in order is often something that is put on the backburner, but the longer it’s left, the more volatile the situation can become. Nobody likes to admit they are struggling financially, but the truth is that it’s a more common situation than many would assume. Remember, nobody has to know the intimate details of your financial situation, the important thing is that you recognise it, and take the necessary action.
Having a financial education is a very important part of modern life. You need it to make sure you aren’t being ripped off and to make sure you are using your own income to its full potential. It is a pretty universal feeling to worry about money and to feel like your budget just doesn’t stretch far enough, and becoming financially literate can be a great start.
If, like most people, you don’t know where to start, here are ten helpful terms than can start you on your way to becoming a financial genius!
Being in Arrears is a form of debt which occurs when you miss a payment. This could be missing a payment on your rent (rent arrears), bills, council tax, your unsecured debt payments or any other regular payments that you may have. They can accumulate very quickly if they are continually missed, which can cause some serious money worries as you will be expected to pay them back on top of your ongoing monthly payments.
Council Tax arrears, and tax arrears in general, in particular, can be very difficult to handle. The government can be one of the harshest creditors to have, and it is likely that bailiffs will get involved if you don’t contact them in order to schedule repayments.
But don’t let this stress you out! If you have arrears of any kind, contact whoever you owe the money to and explain what has happened. Often, a repayment plan of some sort can be discussed. The thing that creditors and companies like the least is being left in the dark.
This is, quite simply, your belongings. In particular, your belongings which have a significant monetary value. This could be your house, your car, your savings, stocks and shares.
County Court Judgement (CCJ)
If a debtor fails to keep to an agreement the court can order them to pay an outstanding debt. This is a County Court Judgement.
As part of a CCJ, an Attachment of Earnings could be placed on your wages. This means that money to pay your debt is taken directly from your wages. This can happen as part of a County Court Judgement (CCJ) (see below). The court decides the amount is taken from your wages. In Scotland, this is called ‘Earnings Arrestment’.
Similarly, you can have an ‘Attachment of Benefits’ in which the council can have deductions taken from your benefits as part of a CCJ. The amount taken is usually 5% of your personal allowance.
Once you have a CCJ, you could apply to have an Administration Order, which is a debt solution granted by the county court. It allows for debt payments to be consolidated into one payment made to the court who distributes it among creditors.
If you are struggling while under a CCJ, you can apply for a Variation Order. This allows CCJ payments to be varied, due to unforeseen circumstances.
Once your CCJ is completed, you can ask to have a Certificate of Satisfaction for £10. However, if you fail to pay, Bailiffs are given a Warrant of Execution to acquire goods from your property and sell them off to pay your debt.
Equity sounds complicated, but it is actually a simple concept. It is the difference between the value of an asset, and its current market value, minus the cost of sale. In other words, it is the profit you would make if you were to sell an asset. Equity is most often discussed in relation to property and mortgages.
For example, if your total remaining Mortgage (including interest) is £223,010, but the property is now worth £400,000. After all the costs associated with selling your home are taken away (usually around £5000), you are left with a profit of £171,990 (see below for working out). That is your equity.
400,000 – 223,010 – 5,000 = 171,990
Negative Equity is when this number records a loss. For example, if your house is worth less than your mortgage.
Joint and Several Liability
It is possible for two people to take out a loan together, this is sometimes referred to as ‘joint debt’. When this happens, ‘joint and several liability’ ensures that both people are responsible for paying back the whole amount. They are not responsible for only half of the debt, each. If one person cannot pay, then the other person must pay back the entire amount.
Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of disagreements and difficulties when partnerships and relationships break down. It is not uncommon for people to get into debt when their partner disappears, leaving them with a large debt.
Many people believe that credit cards can have ‘joint debt’, because numerous cards can be issued for one account. However, it is important to know that this is not the case. All credit cards are linked back to only one person – the account holder. So be careful! If you give someone access to this account by issuing them a card, the debt is legally yours – even if they were the ones doing the spending!
Millions of people struggle to keep up with the continuously increasing costs of expenses in their households as well as keep up with their debts. With many people not earning that much from their jobs, it is hardly surprising to see that the reality is that most people are having a hard time getting ends to meet. If you are struggling yourself, the tips we have below might help make it a lot easier for you to get your finances sorted out.
Be more literate financially
A lot of people these days are financially illiterate which means that many of them are unable to cope with certain financial basics. This means that they will often among those that will have a hard time getting their finances in order whether it has something to do with budgeting their earnings, setting up their savings, minimizing their expenses, or getting their bills paid on time. Getting to know more about personal finances may make it easier for you to make financially sound decisions one step at a time.
Set up a realistic budget and maintain it
A very crucial foundation towards a sounder financial life is to make sure that you have to know how to budget your funds to ensure that expenses are covered while at the same time, ensure that you have something set aside as savings too. If you have never set up a spending plan before it is about time that you do. Use this as a way for you to track the fixed expenses as well as the variable expenses that you need to cover.
Have a retirement fund
A lot of people often make this mistake of only thinking about retirement funds when they are nearing that age, and that is wrong. You need to start preparing for your retirement as early as you can. The sooner that you can get things set, the easier it is going to be for you to be able to set up a substantial amount that can support you in the future if you are no longer able to hold a job or if you would want to stop working for good. If you do not have a retirement plan yet, see about starting out one and make sure that you maximize your contributions as much as you can.
Consolidate your credit card debts
It is very common to see finances getting squeezed by credit card debts that are often high in interest rates. A good way to address this is to secure a personal loan that is unsecured. This is possible if you happen to have a really good credit standing. This is a good way to pay off a debt that has a high interest using a loan that charges a lower interest. Do remember that this is not able to make your debt disappear. Rather, it reduces the costs you need to pay for, so you get to be able to have it paid off at a shorter span of time.
Regularly review your investments
You cannot expect to have stable finances just by simply hoping the best outcome every time. You will need to take the reins in your hands and be more proactive at how you are trying to get your earnings on the right track. If you have opted to put some cash on some investments, then get them checked and reviewed on a regular basis. Check your portfolio at least once a year. This way, you are very well aware where you stand and to see too if you are getting any of the results that you have expected when you decide to put down some cash on this portfolio at all.