Citizens Advice Salford
Making some money saving financial New Year’s resolutions:
January and February see a marked increase in people seeking advice about money from us. This will, no doubt be even more of a concern, as people deal with changes to incomes due to Covid. Here are some easy ways that you might be able to improve your financial position:
Review your bank statement:
When we provide debt advice to people, we generally look through their bank statements with them, to help us get a good understanding of what might be going on. You would be surprised how often things are found that people have forgotten about – so my first top tip is to sit down with your next bank statement and look at every transaction. Check whether every direct debit and standing order is still appropriate.
Review your utility suppliers regularly:
It is hard to keep track of all the various supply contracts that are needed these days. You should do your best to review these things (phone contracts, fuel contracts etc.) when you come to the end of the contract. Why not put a reminder on your phone so that you can do this throughout the year? Don’t just rely on supplier switching websites as these do not always have all the available deals listed. The weekend newspaper financial pages are a good place to find out about the current best deals. If you are thinking about changing your supplier it can be worth speaking to them before hand to see if they can give you a cheaper deal, this tends to work better if you are able to quote them the better deal you have found elsewhere!
Do a benefit calculation:
You might want to think about doing a benefit calculation every now and then. As your circumstances change you may become eligible for an extra top up benefit. Millions go unclaimed every year! Phone us or send a message via our website if you want any advice about anything extra you might want to claim.
Claiming your working from home tax allowance:
If you haven’t done so already be sure to claim your annual working from home tax allowance if you have been working from home during the Covid crisis. It worth about £60 for ordinary taxpayers, and has been made easier to claim this year. See the article on our website about this.
Talk to your car insurer if you are doing reduced mileage:
The cost of car insurance often depends on how much you drive. If you have been driving much less this year, then speak to your insurer about a rebate on your premiums. Another top tip is to make sure you don’t just renew each year with your insurer – always look around for better deals.
Warm Home Discount:
Check out whether you qualify for the warm homes discount and save up to £140 each year. See the article on our website about this.
Review your pension contributions and auto-enrolment:
You should review any decision to opt out of pension auto-enrolment that you may have made. If you are in a pension scheme then generally, your employer is contributing, and you will normally receive the tax back on your own contributions – making a pension a really good way to save over the longer term. Check your pension statement every year and review whether you are saving enough.
Take up the offer of your free Pension Wise consultation:
If you are over 50 and have a personal or workplace pension then you are entitled to a free Pension Wise consultation, to help you understand what your pension planning options are. To book an appointment go to www.pensionwise.gov.uk.
Paying off any debts:
Review any debts that you have, and if you can pay any off then it usually makes sense to start with the most expensive first, or those with higher priority. You can compare the cost of debts by looking at the Annual Percentage Rate or APR.
Do you need any money advice?
The Citizens Advice service provides the national money and debt advice service. If you need any help with re-organising debts, negotiating with people you owe money to, or to apply for a debt relief order, etc. then contact your local Citizens Advice for free expert help (in Salford just phone us on 0808 27 87 802.) There is no need to pay for debt advice.
Join your local credit union:
Your local credit union is a good way to establish a rainy-day fund, and once you have been saving for a few weeks you can usually borrow easily, say three times your savings balance. You can find your local credit union by going to www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk.
Citizens Advice Salford
Freephone 0808 27 87 802.