How to get a grip on your finances in 2010
January 2010 | written by Sam Thewlis, Head of Editorial
Finances are dreary work at the best of times, let alone in the most depressing month of the year. However, instead of moping through a chilly January, why not make 2010 the year you grab your finances by the scruff of the neck and sort them out, once and for all.
For those with children, January may feel even tighter than usual given the hard earned cash spent on convertible robots or miniature pink furniture, so especially for all those mums (or dads) out there, here are some top finance busting tips:
1. Make sure you are getting all the money you are entitled to
A large percentage of benefits go unclaimed by those who most need them, simply because people don’t know they are there. It doesn’t help that the Government keep changing the names of benefits so you don’t know what to claim even if you wanted to. Check out really helpful sites like www.entitledto.co.uk
2. Use cashback sites
If companies are willing to give you free cash just by going via a portal website, why not take advantage. Check where you can get the best prices first, and then visit a cashback site to make your purchase. KidStart is a great site as the extra money goes straight into a savings account for children, rather than on an extra cup of coffee!
3. Child benefit and Child Tax Credits
Child benefit is a great, non-means tested way of getting free cash. If you don’t think you need the extra cash, why not set up a savings account (or even a stakeholder pension) for your child to give them a handy nest egg in the future.
Child Tax Credit awards are based on financial details from the previous tax year, before things are settled up after the following April. If you have undergone bug changes to your income levels, or childcare costs, contact them as soon as possible to make sure you don’t lose out on extra money.
4. Use credit cards with care
We all know how tempting it is, especially over Christmas time, to put extras on the credit card. Well, as the bills land on the mat this month, rather than simply paying the minimum amount, sit down and work out how much you owe on each card, and the interest rate. Pay as much as you can off each month, as even an extra £5 will save £££ in interest costs, and start with the card with the highest rate. This way you will pay the least amount of interest possible and pay your debts off sooner.
A bit of mutual back scratching is often overlooked. If you have your own business why not see if you can trade your product or service for something you want instead of paying out cool hard cash. Even if you don’t sell anything, maybe you are great with a sewing machine, or know a bit about cars and can use your knowledge to help other people, so that they can help you too.
Sam Thewlis is a tax writer and lecturer and also Head of Editorial at www.mumsclub.co.uk, the free business networking and support resource for mums (and dads) in business. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.