Most of us have been back at work after the Christmas break for a few weeks now, and we’ve still got a couple of months of winter weather left to endure.
With post-Christmas finances starting to hit our wallets, it may not come as a surprise to hear that today is said to be the most depressing day of the year.
The third Monday in January – known as Blue Monday – is claimed to be the day when we feel the most down and this is due to a range of factors: the bleak weather, people’s debts, the amount of time since Christmas, the amount of time since failing New Year’s resolutions, and low motivational levels. A lot of critics say that it’s a load of rubbish, and while there may not be much actual scientific basis to back Blue Monday up, it is fair to say that a lot of people do get the post-Christmas blues, and the state of people’s finances play a part in that.
Thanks to Christmas generosity or over-spending and the pressure of another year where your financial situation may not be quite as you’d hoped it would be, it’s easy to feel a bit blue over money, especially when the January payday feels so far away. To help you beat the blue Monday worries and get yourself in good financial shape for the rest of the year, we’ve put together some advice on how to get your finances back on track:
Credit report makeover
If you only check your credit report applying for a mortgage or loan, you might be unaware of any recent changes or mistakes that have been made to it. One top tip is to check your credit report regularly through Equifax, Experian, CallCredit or an alternative service. Make sure that it’s all correct and as you’d expect it to be. If there are any mistakes on there, get them fixed, as if you apply for any type of credit, a lender will look at your report to decide whether to lend you the money or not. It’s also a good idea to close down any accounts that you no longer use, as they’ll still appear on your credit report. If it looks like you have access to lots of credit, some lenders may be put off granting you a loan or a mortgage, so it’s important that you don’t appear to have more than you actually do. You can find out more info on how to check and improve your credit report here.
Review your statements
Another top tip is to take a look at your bank statements to see exactly what you’re paying out every month. If you’ve got any Direct Debits set up for products or services you don’t use any more – such as a TV streaming service or gym membership – cancel them and you could save yourself some extra money.
If you paid for some gifts at Christmas on credit, you may well be getting your first bill for these in the next week or so and if you owe money on various credit cards and store cards, it can be hard to keep track of what amount is on which card, and how much interest you’re paying on each one. There is the option of applying for a balance transfer card with a low or even 0% interest rate – you can then transfer the amount from your current credit cards and any store cards onto it. It’s important to remember that you will most likely be charged a balance transfer fee for doing this transaction, but moving multiple balances onto one card means that you only have to worry about one payment rather than lots of different payments each month. Make sure that you pay off all of the balance, or at least as much as you can, before the 0% transfer period ends, as the interest rate after this time is usually quite high.
Another option for you could be to take out a debt consolidation loan. The money you borrow can be used to pay off your other unsecured debts, like store and credit cards, and you can then pay the loan off month by month. There are unsecured and secured loans available, though it’s important to remember that a secured loan will be secured against your property, so if you default on your payments, there is the chance you could lose your home.
For advice and information on any of the subjects we’ve talked about, one of our experts is on hand to help. You can explain your situation to them and they’ll be able to advise on the best course of action for you to get your finances back on track
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Intelligent Lending Ltd (Credit Broker). Capital One is the exclusive lender.