Taking Control of Debt by Starting Small

Debt can be overwhelming, especially if you’re behind with several different payments at once. When it comes to scheduling repayments, it can be hard to strike the right balance. It can be easy to get disheartened, and resign yourself to constantly paying out.

However, research into money repayment strategies has shown that if you start small, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. Read on to find out how small financial wins can help you on your way to a debt-free life.

 

Why There’s Power in Small Wins

Some people may have multiple credit card accounts, perhaps in addition to a high interest loan, or other money owed. They may take a ‘scattergun’ approach to repayments, regularly distributing a chunk of income amongst the different credit card accounts, or towards various loans. However, research states that people are more likely to work towards getting out of debt completely if they concentrate on paying off the smallest amount first.

The research dealt specifically with credit cards in arrears (though the theory can be applied to most forms of debt), and consisted of various exercises. The results of the exercises show that people who focused on paying towards only one of their multiple accounts eventually paid more of their overall credit card debt in comparison to those who attempted to balance multiple accounts.

 

Why is this?

It turns out it has a lot to do with psychology. It has been shown that concentrating on making repayments towards one account increases motivation to work towards the aim of paying off that same account completely. This, in turn, makes people work harder, and more quickly, to become debt-free.

It works because it makes the goal seem more realistic, and makes the progress that has been accomplished feel more tangible and meaningful. That is the power of a small win: there is solid proof in a paid-off debt, and this proof is motivating as it shows paying off an outstanding sum as doable.

This is the nature of small wins in general: if we experience a feeling of making progress, we are more likely to continue to do so in the future. We feel as though we are getting somewhere. We feel as though we are accomplishing something. Additionally, making progress is also a mood-booster as well as a powerful motivation tool – so keep that in mind!

When it comes to your own personal finance needs, it’s good to know that by starting small, and concentrating your repayments, you may eventually achieve huge goals. You may find it is an easier method of managing your debts, if not a road to complete freedom.

 

The Advantages of Prioritising

When it comes to achieving these little victories, it’s great to start small, but you also need to prioritise. Make sure you know which outstanding amounts deserve the most attention. This comes from understanding your debts, so be sure to refresh your knowledge of their terms and conditions.

Look out for high interest rates on credit cards and loans. Those are the repayments you should probably prioritise above an arranged overdraft that doesn’t incur monthly charges, for instance. The advantages of doing this are that you won’t accumulate further debt in the form of interest charges.

 

Keeping Track of Your Progress

You can use Money Dashboard’s personal finance assistant to help manage your debts and achieve your repayment goals. You can track any bank accounts you have, taking note of savings, income, spending patterns, and repayments of debts. You can then use the budget planner to account for repayments into your spending. You can calculate and allocate an appropriate amount of money that will go towards paying off that one smaller debt, for example, which gets you a small victory and a motivation lift.

By setting these goals, and any other personal financial goals you may have, with Money Dashboard, it is easy to track your progress. By working hard to fulfil your repayment goals month after month, you will gain that sense of achievement and productivity that is needed to eventually shake off debt completely.

So, next time you’re planning your repayments, consider choosing the smallest outstanding amount that you owe to focus on clearing first. That said, make sure to prioritise and eliminate the sources of extra charges. Plan carefully by using Money Dashboard’s personal finance assistant to keep track of multiple accounts.

As always, if your debts are causing you an overwhelming amount of stress, or your feel you aren’t managing, you can seek free advice from National Debtline.

Should You Lend Money to a Friend?

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If a friend or family member asks you for help, your instinct will be to help, which is good. Human beings should help each other. But dealing with personal finance issues requires logical decisions, based on you and your friend’s monetary situation.

It might be that by temporarily postponing reaching your savings goal, you can help someone close to you avoid paying high interest rates. On the other hand, you may never get the money back.

Do you have the money?

You shouldn’t be dealing with other people’s financial problems if you have not yet mastered your own. If you are in debt, you should be budgeting to pay off your debts before lending any money. Otherwise, ask yourself:

  • Do you have the money in your savings already? Never borrow to lend.
  • If you have the savings, what were you saving up for?
  • Is it OK to postpone your saving goal? How long did it take you to save this amount?
  • If you have an unexpected large cost, will you still have savings to cover it?

Do they have the prospects?

Your friend is close enough that you are considering lending them money, but consider what you know about them:

  • Are they in regular employment?
  • Do they earn enough to make repayments?
  • What other costs are they committed to paying?
  • Have they managed money well in the past?
  • Will you have to chase them repeatedly to make sure they make repayments?

If they are in the habit of borrowing more rather than repaying debts, another loan will not help break the cycle.

What Is the Money for?

It’s your money, you have a right to know how it is being used. If you are delaying reaching your savings goal, there needs to be a good reason.

Don’t Expect the Money Back

Make your peace with it now. No matter how much you trust your friend, there’s a chance that you will never get the money back. If you aren’t willing to risk losing the money altogether, don’t lend it.

Make it Interesting

If you didn’t give out the money, you could be making interest off of it. At the very least, your friend should be expected to pay the interest that you would get from your savings account. You may want to ask for more, to make it worth your while to take the risk. It may seem unfriendly, but if your friend is sincere, they will appreciate your gratitude in spite of the terms.

Formalise Your Agreement

At the very least, you should discuss the following terms:

  • How much are you lending?
  • How long are you lending it for?
  • Will they pay interest?
  • How much will they repay at a time?
  • How regularly will they repay?

Once agreed, best practise is to write down the terms and sign it. A contract doesn’t have to be too formal, it is unlikely that anything will end up in court, but writing down and signing an agreement now can prevent allegations and arguments later on. If the loan is a large amount of money, you may want to consider speaking to a solicitor or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau about legitimising your contract and having an independent witness as a signatory.

Don’t Forget About It

Transfer the money by bank transfer or cheque, so that there is a record of the payment, or get a receipt if you are making a payment on their behalf. Have your friend set up a standing order for the repayments and monitor your account to make sure they arrive. If circumstances change, or your friend struggles to meet the repayments, discuss a new repayment plan and formalise it as before.

If You Have to Say No

Whether it’s because you can’t afford the loan, or they can’t afford the repayments, it might be that you just have to say no to your friend. If they are having money issues that they can’t deal with, you should refer them to free advice services like Citizens Advice Bureau or Money Advice Service.

 

The Shining Path to Financial Freedom

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It’s easy to feel like you are imprisoned by your finances. There never seems to be enough. But it doesn’t have to be this way, if you can achieve financial freedom.

What is Financial Freedom?

Total financial freedom is enough money to do whatever you want with your life. Whatever it takes to stop worrying if you are going to have enough to cover your expenses each month. With financial freedom you can focus instead on savings goals like buying a home, a car, paying for children’s education, or financing your hobby.

The Tough Road Ahead

There is no easy solution. Achieving financial freedom requires dedication, willpower, planning and above all, patience. You may need to start working on it today if you want to be financially comfortable when you retire. But your financial dreams are achievable. Take control of your destiny by adhering to the following advice.

Budgeting to Save

While everyone knows they’d have more money if they saved more, it is challenging to put into practise. It’s tempting to spend money on making your life more comfortable when you are living off beans in a home needing repairs, putting on a second jumper to stay warm, or walking home in the rain watching taxis pass you by. But in the long run, there are better rewards for saving money. You will earn off interest, rather than paying it on debts, and you can build towards an early retirement, where you can live easy or make your hobby full-time.

Personal Finance Assistant

Money Dashboard is a personal finance assistant that anyone can use as a budget planner. It will keep track of your spending, and automatically sort each transaction into categories, so you will easily be able to compare your budget to your spending, and clearly see when you are reaching or passing your budgeted limits.

Using Money Dashboard, keep a record of everything you spend money on in 30 days. You might be surprised to see where your money goes. This list can form the basis of your monthly budget. Reduce the spending in areas where you feel like you spent too much, and only increase an amount if you spent less than normal.

Invest

Once you have built up enough savings to form a financial cushion, you can start thinking about investing your savings. Investing in property is usually a prosperous endeavour in the UK. If you are renting out a property, there are agencies that can deal with all the legal paperwork, listing, tenants, repairs, etc. on your behalf. However, the more service you pay for, the less you will make from the property.

If you can make time in your life to deal with it, the best landlords are those that communicate with their tenants regularly, and respond to repair requests promptly. It may seem more expensive, but happy tenants will stay for longer, and the administrative and incidental costs of changing tenants is not worth the savings on improvements.

You can also speak to any bank, building society, or pension firm about options for investing your savings. Pay attention to interest rates, risk or liability, liquidity (in case you need to turn the investment back to cash), associated fees and expenses.

Work out the best return on investment at a level of risk you are comfortable with. If you find all the information confusing or overwhelming, a decent Independent Financial Advisor might be able to suggest ways to invest your money that will make you enough in revenue to cover their costs.

Although it may take time, it’s possible to achieve financial freedom by saving and investing. Keep your eye on the ball and remember that work today will pay off with interest in the future.

10 Steps to Conquering All Debt

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Credit and debt can be a stressful topic. When people borrow money they assume they can pay back, and then don’t get the increase in income they were expecting, or experience a change in their financial situation that leaves them broke.

It can be tough to face up to debt, but following these ten steps, you can make it out of debt and back into savings.

1.     Face It Head On

The first thing to do is to properly review your finances. Ignoring mounting debt won’t get you anywhere and debt collectors can’t be fobbed off forever. You have to know the size of it and plan a route to conquer it. Unpaid debt can harm your credit rating and affect your ability to borrow money, hire cars, rent property etc.

You might already have a good idea of who you owe money to but it can’t hurt to get a credit report. There are a few companies in the UK who offer a free credit report for 30 days. Make sure you cancel your account before the trial period is up.

2.     List Your Debts

Put together a list of everywhere you owe money, how much you owe, and the interest rates of each. You should aim to pay at least the minimum amount each month for each debt then prioritise the debt with the highest interest rate.

3.     Build a Budget

Budgeting can seem like a mammoth task but it’s really quite simple especially when using a budget planner like Money Dashboard. The Cashflow Calculator feature can be used to anticipate your monthly outgoings and repayments. Once you know your total income for the month and the amount you must pay back you can see how much you have left each month. You can set yourself monthly limits for other expenditures using the Spend Tracker feature.

4.     Review Your Bills

If your minimum repayments and monthly outgoings are more than your monthly income start by reviewing your spending. Price comparison websites can help you make sure you’re getting the best deals on utilities, telecommunications, and insurance. Often you get better deals for paying by direct debit. See if there’s a way to save money on transport with travel cards or booking an advance or on groceries by choosing own brand alternatives. Cut your indulgences down to a bare minimum.

The Outgoings Chart on your Money Dashboard can also help identify areas where you may be spending more than you think.

5.     Review Your Lenders

You may find that you are paying more interest on your debt than you need to. You might be entitled to a 0% credit card or other credit sources that have a lower interest rate. You can also speak to a debt consolidation company about combining your bills. They should be able to offer you a lower monthly repayment. This means you will be paying them back for much longer and paying more overall, but you will be able to afford the repayments.

6.     Stick to Your Budget

This may seem obvious but it’s important. If you make your budget too tight you will overspend. Keep it realistic and if you can’t stay within the limits you set for yourself don’t give up. Adjust them and try again. Using Money Dashboard as a budget calculator can be really helpful in making sure you don’t miss anything.

7.     No New Credit

Get rid of store credit cards as they tend to have very high interest rates. Unless you are transferring debt to a credit card with a smaller interest rate you shouldn’t be using credit cards anymore. Cut them up and throw them out so you are not tempted. Do not accept any new loans or credit offers unless you are paying back more than you can manage and need to consolidate.

8.     Show No Fear

Letters from debt collectors often use powerful language to scare debtors into complying. Remember that they are just following protocol and anyone you talk to will be receptive to discussing options for gradual repayment. If you feel like you are being unduly pressured, if rates have been unfairly increased or unfair charges have been added, speak to the Financial Conduct Authority, Financial Ombudsman Service, or the Office of Fair Trading.

9.     Talk to Your Creditors

Writing a letter or email is good because you have a record of the conversation with the lender but a phone call will work just as well especially if you make note of when you called, the person you spoke to, and what was agreed. A bit of advanced research can’t hurt either – look for personal finance forums that discuss your creditor or the debt collection agency and try to find out what their usual tactics are, how ethical or understanding they are and what kind of deals they are likely to accept.

Explain your financial situation and tell them how much you can afford to pay monthly. They may ask you to provide proof so be prepared to share your financial documents with them. Even if the monthly amount you offer is less than they requested you may be able to agree on a repayment plan, though you will likely have to pay them for a longer period and a larger total amount. If you can pay the debt off faster than they were expecting you may be able to agree a reduced rate and save some money.

10. Get More Help

If you are still not sure what to do or have questions that aren’t answered here, there are organisations where you can get professional assistance. Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or free services like National Debtline. Try to be open with family and friends as well. Debt problems can lead to mental health problems and being open rather than embarrassed may earn you some emotional support and understanding. 

I’ve graduated! Now what?

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Completing a degree is a fantastic feeling, however it can be as mentally draining as when you first started out. Once I had finished my last ever university exam earlier this month I could not express how relieved and proud I was. I felt amazing at the thought of beginning a new chapter of my life. Although at the same time, the question of ‘what do I do now?’ overwhelmed me.

Many of us have a vision of walking straight into our dream job and saving money for that dream flat– and for a few of us, luck has been a great friend. I have sat stressing in front of my laptop scrolling furiously for my dream job in journalism, whilst I watch on to see my friends landing their ideal jobs in areas such as teaching and computing. I am over the moon for them all, but I am growing more concerned over my own career path.

Job hunting after university

After a month of searching I have one piece of advice – things don’t work out how you would like them to. There are ways, however, that you can get around this issue. One of them, which I am most likely to carry out, includes scrapping the idea that things are handed out on a plate. You will achieve your dream career, although you may have to take an alternative route to get there.

The one image I can’t stand thinking about is being stuck at home after graduation, bored out of my mind. I am sure this is also the case for many other recent graduates who would love to get stuck in to a career.

With this in mind, I have started looking at getting a full time job in an area such as retail. Although shift work may seem a nuisance, there are a number of plus sides. Most importantly:

1. You can still have your independence

Money is a great help, whatever job you are doing. It may not be your dream job straight away, but being financially stable will always give you the independence you deserve after university. It also means you are able to keep some extra cash behind to enjoy yourself, and reward yourself for all the hard work.

2. Paying your expenses on work experience isn’t an issue

With a job under your belt, whatever it be, you can save your money to spend on things such as travel, food and accommodation for work experience placements in your dream career. Use this to your advantage, as work placements are a great way to get yourself recognise, and gain some vital experience in what you love doing.

There is more than one way to reach your goal and still be in a positive financial situation. It may take a little longer to get to where you want to be, but with some wisdom you can achieve anything. I found a quote recently that said:

“Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

About the author

Katie Palmer is a freelance writer and journalist who has just graduated from the University of Kent. She has written about saving money at the shops for the guardian, reported for her local paper and also had articles on music and fashion published by various websites and magazines.

 

Self-employed: Are your personal finances affected?

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Being self-employed involves more financial administration than regular employment. Unless you can afford to hire an accountant, you have to stay on top of both business and personal finances and accounts. This article will look at personal finance management for the self-employed.

Register for Taxes

As a self-employed person you will have to be registered with HMRC, and will have to complete annual self assessment tax return based on your income and expenses. As well as income tax, HMRC will also bill you for National Insurance. The deadline for paper returns is 31 October, and online returns must be submitted by 31 January. If your yearly turnover exceeds £81,000, you will also have to register for VAT.

Record Keeping

Business income and expenditure should be recorded. Receipts and invoices should be filed and organised. Your financial records will be requested by HMRC, and by creditors you apply to, so keep them up to date.

Business Bank Accounts

One good way to separate your accounts is by opening a business bank account for work-related transactions. While business bank accounts usually come with additional costs, there are often deals available with low or no charges for two years.

Money Dashboard allows you to aggregate and monitor multiple bank accounts in one place. You’ll be able to follow trends and search transactions in your business account, personal account, savings and credit cards separately or all together to get a complete picture of your financial situation.

Cash

If your business involves dealing with a lot of cash, it’s best to make regular deposits in your bank account, and withdraw exact amounts for their specific purpose when required. This makes it clearer to see where revenue is being spent, and creates a paper trail for auditors or lenders that check up on you.

Insurance

Depending on the type of business you run, you may be required by law to be covered by insurance, such as professional indemnity or public liability insurance. If you work from home it may affect your home and contents insurance. If you use your vehicle for business it could affect your motor insurance. Find out what insurance is necessary for your business.

Mortgages

While it shouldn’t hurt your chances of getting a mortgage if you are self-employed, it often makes the application process more complicated.

How much can I borrow?

If you’ve been running a successful business for over a year, you can usually borrow up to five times your income. Even if you have some adverse credit, you may still be able to borrow, but you won’t get as good a deal.

If you are a sole trader or member of a partnership, the amount you can borrow will be based on your net profit (income vs expenditure). A large income stream will not be as helpful if you are writing off a lot of expenses. If you are a company director, it will be based on your salary and dividends. Some lenders will also take into account retained profits.

How do I prove my income?

Exactly what documents and proof you will be expected to provide, and how far back they will want to check, will vary between lenders. You will likely require your self-assessment tax return, last financial year’s accounts, and your last three months business and personal bank account statements.

Can I Improve My Chances?

Knowing in advance that you will be applying for a mortgage may affect how you plan your budget and manage your finances throughout the year. It may be better to hold off on large capital purchases, for example. If you are a director of a limited company, consider how much dividend to pay out and how it will affect your finances.

There are brokers that specialise in mortgages for self-employed people that can advise. Make sure you don’t overspend or incur penalty fees from your bank accounts, and don’t fall behind on credit repayments. If your credit rate falls it could hurt your chances.

About the author

Mike Hall is a media and marketing professional, specialising in video production and content marketing. From Edinburgh, Scotland, Mike now lives in Glasgow. He has experience is short film production, podacasting and Internet radio, as well as having worked with SMEs in the technology industry, and private clients as a web designer, and an IT and marketing consultant.

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Million pound homes currently on the UK market

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What can £1,000,000 get you in June, 2015 off the property market? Well it really depends on where you’re looking to buy. Money Dashboard’s Lisa Venter rounds a few properties up to see what a handy million could get you…

Pittenweem, Scotland

Offers Over £995,000

This Scottish property is a magnificent detached Edwardian home (circa 1904) and retains many fine period features. The impressive wood paneled reception hall, original fireplaces and ornate cornice work are all features you won’t find a lot of these days. The luxurious bespoke kitchen, downstairs cloakroom, study and master en suite are all lavishly decorated and offer a country hotel feel. Landscaped gardens and five bedrooms will keep you busy no doubt but it will be all worth it for those country getaways!

St Adrians 43 Viewforth Place PITTENWEEM

Grange Gardens, London

Offers of and upwards of £100,000, 000

This three bedroom property in Grange Gardens in London is a stunning, 1260 square foot duplex penthouse apartment. It has on offer a panoramic roof top and city views and comprises: entrance hallway, large reception room with open plan fitted kitchen with access to own private roof terrace, bedroom and upstairs bathroom. You may have to be a bit of an exhibitionist to enjoy this feature bathroom though…

Grange gardens London

Paines Hill, Oxfordshire

Offers of £100,000,000

This five bedroom property in Oxfordshire is rather impressive and has a classic charm that could really woo potential buyers with. The main house enjoys views over a large garden to the front which is mainly laid to lawn. Wisteria adds to the charm of this property and mature trees and shrubs makes the garden the perfect place to enjoy with friends and family. The current owners have created seating areas to maximise the sunshine throughout the day.

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Woodford Green, Essex

Offers in Excess of £1,000,000

This rather plush four bedroom semi detached property in Woodford Green in Essex has a lot to offer.  Situated in Worcester Crescent on the much favoured Monkhams Estate is this imposing four bedroom semi detached family home. This impressive property offers spacious accommodation that includes two receptions, kitchen/dining room, study, utility room and ground floor cloakroom. TOWIE for some…

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Garthmyl Hall, Mid wales

Guide Price of £1,000,000

This beautiful ten bedoom property in Garthmyl is simply splendid! It has 8,385 square feet of comfortable period accommodation including four generous reception rooms, a large kitchen and a useful number of ancillary domestic rooms, together with a fantastic wine cellar. The first floor offers eight en-suite bedrooms with feature master bedroom suite. There is also a most useful two storey one bedroom/one reception room flat incorporated within the main house and ideal for a house keeper/staff.

Garthmyl Hall sits prominently amongst just under five acres of parkland gardens and grounds, and includes a traditional walled garden, together with a range of domestic outbuildings and courtyard to the rear of the house. Compared to what you can get for £1,000,000 in London, this is a great example of how far your money can stretch!

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About the author

Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m Money Dashboard’s Social Media Guru and all rounder Marketeer! When I’m not on Money Dashboard’s Facebook and Twitter accounts talking to all our friendly fans and followers, I spend time looking at some of the new features on our website. My favourite part of the Money Dashboard app is the way all the information is easy to digest with the cool visuals it uses. Oh, and it’s free to sign up.

Lisa Venter

Posted by Money Dashboard

Debt couple

Debt can sometimes feel like an overwhelming problem, spilling out of your bank account and affecting other parts of your life. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be solved. If you’re struggling with debt or know someone who is, here are some simple, manageable tips to help you tackle the problem head on and get back into the black.

1. Acknowledge the problem

The first step on the road to getting out of debt is acknowledging that you may be struggling. Accepting the situation will make it far easier to tackle the issue, giving you a clear head and a tangible goal.

2. Budget

Write down all of your incomings and outgoings, and use Money Dashboard to help you keep track of your monthly expenditure – this will make it much easier to see where your money is or has been going. Use this information to build a clear picture of your finances across the next few months, and start planning where to make cuts.

3. Check your entitlements

Make sure that you’re receiving all of the government funded benefits that you’re entitled to. If you’re on a low wage, you could be eligible for Income Support, Child Tax Credits and Council Tax Relief. You can find out exactly what you should be receiving from the Department for Work and Pensions.

4. Cut back

Have a money makeover by identifying areas where you can cut back. Think about switching your utility providers, and try to scale back spending on everyday things like transport and food by buying value-for-money travelcards and own-brand products. Selling things like old clothes and furniture on sites like eBay can also help make a dent in the debt. Our smart Money Dashboard software will make it simple to identify cuts to your outgoings, making it that much easier to clear your debts.

5. Organise your payments

Ensure you’re paying your bills by direct debit – this will save you time and money by avoiding late payments. Many companies also offer incentives for paying by direct debit, which is an added bonus.

6. Cut up your cards

If you have store cards, now’s the time to cut them up. High rates of APR could be stinging you, and it’s better to get rid of the temptation completely. Try to limit yourself to one credit card with the lowest rate of interest, and be on the lookout for balance transfer offers that give you an introductory interest-free period.

7. Look for advice

It’s important to find the right support while you’re paying down your debts, so don’t be afraid to seek professional advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau is always a good place to start, and a free help service like StepChange or the National Debtline can offer invaluable support.

8. Contact creditors

Be open and honest with your creditors – write to them with evidence of your financial situation, what you plan to do next, and express your desire to set up a sensible payment plan. Most creditors will be empathetic and helpful. Always start by dealing with your most pressing debts, and don’t be pressured into making payments you can’t afford.

9. Think long term

Consider your options for paying off your debts over the long term. There are multiple tools available including Individual Voluntary Arrangements and debt consolidation loans that can help you spread the cost of repayments over the coming years. Speak to a debt advice charity or contact a financial advisor to discuss the option that’s best for you.

Posted by Money Dashboard

Credit-Cards

While you’ll likely be using your debit card for everyday purchases, it can be comforting to have a credit card on hand for emergencies and larger payments. The prospect of debt is a serious concern, but with some clever planning you can reap the benefits without the drawbacks. At Money Dashboard we want to help you take control of your finances, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you avoid credit card debt.

1. Always pay your balance in full

The most important step in avoiding credit card debt is paying off the balance every month. This way, you don’t have to worry about accruing interest charges, and you can still enjoy perks such as store vouchers and cashback. Our free budgeting software makes it easy to keep track of your spending, so you know you have enough to cover your outgoings.

2. Save up for a rainy day

If you’re tempted by a credit card as a way to cover major emergency purchases, consider setting up a savings account you can access when necessary as an alternative resource. In the 2014/15 tax year, everyone over 16 in the UK can deposit £15,000 into a tax-free ISA. Easy access options allow you to withdraw funds whenever you need them, although you won’t be able to return them until the next tax year.

3. Be wary of stockpiling credit cards

While switching between multiple cards can be a good way to get the most out of each one, the more you own, the easier it is to accidentally accumulate debt. Using Money Dashboard will help you keep a close eye on your usage, but do make sure you know your limits.

4. Prioritise your spending

Credit cards are useful for big, one-off purchases, which you can pay back within the agreed period. To avoid becoming reliant on them on a daily basis, make a list of all your monthly essentials in advance so you can avoid last minute panics, and set up direct debit transfers to pay for utilities and council tax.

5. Pay more than just your credit minimum

This is particularly important if you’re concerned about your future credit rating. Paying more than the minimum on your existing credit cards will show potential lenders that you’re financially stable and responsible, improving your chances of getting a loan later.

6. Avoid sneaky charges

Don’t get caught out by loopholes. For example, balance transfer cards are ideal for moving debts around to minimise the interest you pay, but factor in the 3% fee this incurs and avoid using them for purchases, as they can carry drastically different rates from 0% spending cards. Other possible catches include charges to withdraw cash from an ATM.

7. Get free advice

Don’t rely on debt management companies who’ll charge for a consultation. Money Dashboard’s tools allow you to easily follow all of your outgoings, making tracking your credit card spending and debts more straightforward. If you feel you need extra help, you can get free, independent advice in person or on the phone from organisations such as StepChange Debt Charity, the Citizens Advice service and National Debtline.

Posted by Money Dashboard

How to Fund a Postgraduate Degree

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A third of students believe that a postgraduate degree might work out more expensive than it’s worth. A recent survey carried out by Graduates.co.uk shows that only 43% of students believe a postgraduate degree is worth the cost. While 65% believe that a postgraduate degree could improve their job prospects, 31% believe a postgraduate degree is not worth the financial sacrifice, and 26% weren’t sure.

If you’re considering a postgraduate degree, you may also be worried about the cost too. The following article explores 10 ways you can raise funding to help you attain your education.

10 ways to raise postgraduate funding

  1. The Grants Register is a textbook guide of postgraduate funding sources worldwide. It is revised annually and you can probably find it in your University library.
  2. TARGETcourses is a website for UK post graduate courses with significant funding information
  3. If you know what University you want to attend, contact their main office or the specific department you want to join and enquire about discounts or awards they offer for post-graduate studies.
  4. Large awards are usually very competitive. You’ll have more luck applying for several smaller awards. Apply for as many as you are eligible for.
  5. Universities often offer discounts for early payments so, if possible, try to pay up early.
  6. Some Universities offer discounts to alumni, so if staying at the same Uni appeals to you, see if they offer this kind of deal.
  7. Write a separate application for each award, and tailor your application to fulfil the requirements described. It takes more time, but generic “copy and paste” applications can be transparent and don’t show care.
  8. If you are employed and studying part time, ask your employer about sponsorship or joint funding, especially if you work in a related field.
  9. You can also look for on-campus work for extra funding, either in your department, or for services like the library or student union.
  10. If you want to study abroad, check out the UK Council for International Student Affairs and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission

You can make your funding go further by using Money Dashboard’s money manager software to monitor your spending habits and identify areas where you are spending too much.

 

Posted by Money Dashboard