January may be a tight month, but it is also one where you can take a few simple steps to have a better financial start to the year.
Sally Francis, a senior writer at MoneySavingExpert.com, explains five things you should consider after a month of excess.
Check you are getting the benefits you are entitled to this includes checking your child tax credits and marriage allowance. You could be thousands of pounds better off, states Ms Francis.
She said: “Check if you’re entitled to help with childcare costs via the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits. Some women can be thousands of pounds better off a year, though it only applies to households with an income under £46,000.”
If that’s not you, you could still save with childcare vouchers through your employer. These enable you to pay out for childcare from your pre-tax salary via salary sacrifice. New members are only allowed until April 2018, though the Tax-Free Childcare scheme is due to launch this year. Eligible families will get 20 per cent of their childcare costs paid by the government.
A review of the direct debits and standing orders leaving your bank could save you money if you are paying out for phone insurance for old mobiles or gym memberships when you have no intention of going.
Ms Francis said: “Energy, broadband and TV are pain-free ways to save hundreds of pounds a year, especially where you end up with the same company but paying far less than you were just by switching your deal.”
Making use of your loyalty points can help you save too.
Ms Francis said: “The trick is to determining where you will get the most value for your points. Clubcard points are usually better spent on vouchers for restaurants or days out as you can get four times the value of your points back – £2.50 in store could be £10 in selected restaurants.”
Cutting your shopping bill will help you all year round and Ms Francis said perhaps the most obvious but rarely practised suggestion of them all. Simply buy cheaper versions of the everyday products you use.
Also if you feel you aren’t getting the best deal with your bank consider switching.
Ms Francis added: “Switching isn’t the hassle it used to be either – it can be done in as little as seven working days. Best of all, the new bank does the leg work of the switch for you, contacting your payees and informing them of your new account details and eventually closing your old account.”