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Top tips to help you stay on top of your finances

Simple tips can be followed to keep people debt-free Photo: PA

Citizens Advice Carlisle & Eden (CACE) expect this week to be their busiest for advice on debt.

Analysis by the national charity shows that the demand for money and debt advice is highest in the country in January and February.

Here are a few tips from CACE to help you stay on top of your finances this year:

  • Do a simple budget: Write down your income and take away essential bills like 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.
  • Save money on essentials: 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. You could save an average of £300 on your energy bill by changing tariffs or suppliers.
  • 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.co.uk. If you live alone, you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax bill.
  • Start saving: It doesn’t matter if it’s 50p or £5 a week, every penny will help improve your finances. 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 on 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.
  • 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 by 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.

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