Ipswich Citizens Advice is expecting about 150 people to seek advice from them on financial matters in January and February as the national charity reveals that people are more likely to research financial decisions in January than any other time of the year. This is in addition to those who get the help they seek online.
Analysis by the national charity shows that across the country, demand for money and debt advice is highest in January and February, with one person contacting their nearest Citizens Advice for help every 11 seconds and people visiting the Citizens Advice website every 3 seconds in January.
Ipswich Citizens Advice is predicting demand for advice on finances to peak in the last week of January, which was the busiest time in January in 2016.
While January is often associated with squeezed budgets and debt worries, Ipswich Citizens Advice is also expecting people to contact them with money queries as people take stock of their money situation and plan their finances long-term.
Ipswich Citizens Advice anticipates that the most popular money queries will be on budgeting and reducing outgoings, while the most common questions around managing debt will cover credit cards, personal loans and council tax arrears.
To help people get started, Ipswich Citizens Advice is sharing its eight top tips to help people get their finances in order for the New Year.
Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:
“January is a great time to take stock of your finances and think about your priorities for the future, not just for the next month but for the next year and beyond.
“Although many people will be focusing on their next paycheck after the busy Christmas period, people can also use the time to review whether they can save money on their bills or set a savings goal.
“Whether you’re looking to deal with debts, cut your costs or budget better, Citizens Advice can help you review your overall money situation so you can make decisions that improve your financial security.”
For information and advice, visit the website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk, phone the Adviceline on 0300 330 1151, visit our debt clinic on Wednesday afternoons between 1 and 3pm or come to an Ipswich Citizens Advice drop-in session at 19 Tower Street, Ipswich between 9.30am and 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and between 9.30am and 12 on Wednesday.
Ipswich Citizens Advice top tips for getting your finances in order.
Do a simple budget
Write down your income and take away your essential bills such as rent or mortgage, gas and electric, food and transport. If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs. Use our online tool to set a more detailed budget.
Save money on essentials
You could save an average of £300 a year on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers. Use Citizens Advice’s energy comparison tool to see if you can save.
Diarise the dates of annual contracts that are up for renewal, like your mobile phone or car insurance, and use a comparison site to see if you can get a cheaper deal.
Check you’re claiming the right benefits
If you have a family or are married, check if you can apply for working tax credits or marriage tax allowance on gov.uk or contact us for support with this.
If you live alone, you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax bill.
If you claim benefits, visit the Citizens Advice website to check if you are eligible for discounts on your water or energy bills.
Start saving if you can – it doesn’t matter if it’s 50p or £5 a week, every penny will help improve your finances. Remember the local credit unions when thinking about where to put your savings.
Saving is an important part of everyday finances, giving you a buffer for emergencies, helping you buy bigger items and giving you more financial security for the future.
Keep tabs to stay out of your overdraft
Sign up to free text alerts from your bank so you know when you’re close to going into your overdraft. Then make adjustments to your spending if you can.
Be choosey about your borrowing
If you need to borrow money, it’s important to know that there are different offers with credit cards and loans, from free balance transfers to paying no interest for the first few months.
Get your debts in order
If you can’t pay all your debts at once, it’s important to prioritise. Rent or mortgage and council tax are more important than credit card debts for example, as the consequences can be more serious if you don’t pay. Find out how to prioritise on the Citizens Advice website or contact your nearest service for help.
Invest in your future
Pensions are a great way to save for the future and are also good value, as your contributions are topped up your employer and the government.
If you’re eligible for auto-enrolment, consider paying more than just the minimum.
Those who are self-employed can still set up their own pension but make sure it’s with a regulated company.
If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension you can get free a Pension Wise appointment to learn more about taking your pension.