Promotional feature contributed by Experian
Now is a good a time as any to clear out your financial clutter, especially with Spring just around the corner. Why not start this Summer feeling financially free.
How to Clear Your Financial Clutter
James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs, Experian
Check out your ins and outs
Even small changes can help you balance your income against your outgoings, which can often help you feel more in control of your finances.
It can help you work out when to allow room for certain irregular or seasonal costs, for example a direct debit like a TV licence, a one-off annual charge like insurance, or things like birthdays or special events – as well as stopping outgoings you may no longer need or use, like a gym membership you forgot you had.
And keeping up to date with when your credit bills are due can help you avoid the risk of missing payments, which could affect your Experian Credit Score.
Could you get a better deal on your regular bills?
When did you last change your tariff? With highly competitive markets like mobile phone, energy, broadband or insurance, once an introductory deal is over many people allow their contracts to roll on to higher rates without even realising it – so they can end up paying more each month for the same thing.
Changing could save you hundreds of pounds, with tariffs changing so often it’s hard to keep up with it, and companies both trying to get customers from their rivals or persuade them to stay loyal to them.
In some cases your current provider will want to keep you as a customer and may be persuaded to match or better deals you find elsewhere.
With bank accounts, many people think it’s more trouble than it’s worth to ensure all their payments and debits are changed. There’s a chance you don’t have the best account for your needs, such as overdraft provision, or benefits like car breakdown cover.
Make some simple savings
Simple things like making your own packed lunch instead of nipping out for a pricey baguette can save a packet over the course of a year. Other simple wins could be to try and ignore the temptation to make impulse buys, and not to shop for food when you’re feeling really hungry!
Likewise, walking, running or cycling to work/play where possible. Not to mention cutting out gym membership you hardly ever use, or satellite TV channels you never watch – it can all add up!
Do you use the train for family trips? There are railcards that could save you money. Need a hotel? You could check voucher websites for useful ‘percentage off’ code campaigns, or cashback deals.
And even at home you can save money! According to the Energy Saving Trust, a typical household could save up to £30 a year just by reaching for the off switch instead of the stand-by button, while using a bowl to do the washing up rather than a running tap could save another £30 a year.
Getting your credit report in shape
Another way of doing that is to make sure your Experian Credit Report is accurate and up-to-date. Your credit report can show you if you’ve missed some payments on cards or loans you have.
Doing this could help you be better off in the long term, as when you make an application for a loan, credit card, mortgage or other type of credit – like a new utility contract or a mobile-phone account – lenders look at your credit report to work out a credit score for you.
Lenders like to see evidence that you might be a responsible borrower, and given that late or missed repayments stay on your credit report for at least six years, it’s a good idea to make your repayments on time if you can. Checking your Experian Credit Score (which you can now get free, forever) before you apply for new credit can give you a good indication of how lenders see you.
Find out how to get involved in National Clear Your Clutter Day 2017