If you're looking to get your finances in shape; work out where you can make any savings and get on top of any debts, our advice can help.
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Looking at how you spend your money and where you can trim back will help you plan a budget that meets your daily costs.
It can also help you build up savings so you’re prepared for any sudden changes, from one-off expenses like replacing a washing machine to a change in your employment.
We can help you sort out your debts and give you the knowledge and tools to plan your budget for a more financially secure future.
Here's our top tips for getting your finances in shape
Blitz your budget
Get a clear idea of how much you spend - do a simple budget.
Write down your income and take away your essential bills such as rent, council tax, gas and electric, food and transport. Some bills vary from month to month, so take an average of these outgoings and use it to build a realistic budget.
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. The Citizens Advice budgeting tool External link can help you set a more detailed budget.
Get the best deal on your energy, water and other essentials
You may be able to save money on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers. Use Citizens Advice’s energy comparison tool External link to see if you can save.
Because many energy companies are struggling, you won't find as many tariffs as normal. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.
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.
Water down your water costs - smaller households may be able to save money by moving to a water meter. With a meter, you only pay for what you use. Work out if you could save by visiting: www.ccwater.org.uk External link. Many water companies have special schemes to help people who are struggling with their water bills. Contact your water supplier to see if they run one.
Sort out your debts
Make a list of your creditors, how much you owe and when you need to pay it back. Refer back to your monthly budget and see what you can afford to pay.
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. Go to the work out which debts to deal with first External link page on the Citizens Advice website for information on which debts should take priority, and negotiating with your creditors or call us on freephone 0800 144 8848 or email us
Maximise your income
Overpaying taxes and not claiming what you’re entitled to can have an impact on your income. Make sure you’re on the right tax code by visiting gov.uk. External link
If you have children or are married, check if you can apply for working tax credits, marriage tax allowance or universal credit by visiting gov.uk. External link
If you live alone, make sure you’re not overpaying council tax - single person households should get a 25% discount.
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 a free Pension Wise External link appointment to learn more about taking your pension.
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First Published: Tuesday 2 January 2018. Updated Thursday 2 January 2020; 21 December 2020; 5 January 2021. Last updated: 23 December 2021
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