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08 January 2014

Managing new year debt

Managing new year debt

It is the time of year that exerts the most strain on people's finances and when they are most likely to seek debt advice. Yet there are simple everyday things that can be done to reduce expenditure and increase savings. 

Arwyn Bailey, of the Association of Christian Financial Advisers (ACFA), shares his money-saving tips for the coming year....

Join a credit union and start saving for spending on festivities in December which will spread your spend over the year. Supporting a credit union is a way of backing your community. If you're in debt, take this opportunity to plan your way out by drawing up your budget for the year.

No matter what your belief might be, give something up that costs money during Lent, which starts this month, and put it towards a local charity such as a food bank, or debt advice centre.

Look at putting money into your pension to gain tax relief for the current tax year.

Now that Lent is over, resolve to give up whatever you set aside once and for all. Instead, set up a standing order and put the money into an ISA or a pension.

Think about growing some food over the summer by buying the relevant seeds or seedlings, some compost and other things you might need. You'll have the satisfaction of growing your own crops and of getting out in the open air.

Plumbers are often looking for work in the summer months and may discount their prices. Ring round, get some quotes and get your boiler and heating system serviced.

Start thinking about getting your car ready for the winter.  As with other trades your local garage may be looking for work. A full service could be cheaper at this time, including a check up on the pressure on your AC unit and on the level of anti-freeze in your radiator.

If you are planning to holiday abroad, then take a pre-paid currency card with you. This is cheap, safe and helps you to stick to a budget if you leave all but a debit card at home.

If you have some time on your hands, think about what casual work you could apply for over the Christmas period, such as working in the Post Office or in a retail store.

Keep your eyes peeled for good deals. This is the time of year that new models come out and retailers discount end-of-range stock. If you and your loved ones don't absolutely have to have the latest mobile phone, then you could grab yourself a bargain.

Make a will, as this is Will Aid month, when some solicitors and will writers donate some or their entire fee to charity.

Many deals are advertised at this time of the year by the telecom and broadband utility companies.  If you have stuck to the plan for the year, then treat yourself by using some of the money you saved in the credit union, and look out for deals on shows in the West End.