You dont have to have the lifestyle demands of Paris Hilton to need extra money these days. According to Credit Action, the total UK personal debt was 1,122 billion, a growth of about 10.5% over the previous year and in the UK and each adult in the UK has an average of 4.1 credit cards in their wallet.
In their most recent report, Credit Action also recorded 2.3 million personal loan agreements in the second quarter of 2005. Interesting, the national money education charity discovered a gap between the interest rates advertised for loans and the actual interest rates paid by the borrowers.
So, with such volumes of debt, what is the best way forward in managing your money?
1) Prioritise your spending
Decide what you need to buy and when you need it. If its not a necessity, put it to the bottom of the list. With Christmas approaching, its important that you have an awareness of your budget. Make a list of things you need to buy including Christmas presents. Once you have a list, shop around for the cheapest deal including some internet research. Thirty minutes of surfing the internet could result in significant savings, which will either reduce outstanding debt or contribute to savings.
2) Prioritise your borrowing
If you borrow money, when do you think youd be able to pay it back? For example, for smaller amounts of money that could be paid within a shorter period of time a credit card might be the most flexible way of borrowing money. Alternatively, if you need to borrow a larger sum of money and wish to make the repayments over a longer period of time then a personal loan could be more effective. Do some homework online, sites such as moneynet and moneyfacts provide online financial product guides and price comparison information.
3) Prioritise your requirements
In addition to thinking about how much money you need to borrow and how you want to repay it, you may wish to look at other ways in which your financial products could work for you. Examples include cash-back, reward points, charity donations etc.
4) Never, ever, take out a store card
Whatever the discount the store offers you on the day, remember, it wont be as a gesture of goodwill. Nearly all store cards carry a vastly inflated rate of interest and they rely on you not being able to pay off the balance in full straight away. There is a strong chance that what you ultimately end up paying is far greater than the discount on the actual day.
5) Do you really need it?
As Christmas approaches, its easy to spend a little extra on clothes, food and drink and presents. However, if you make a list of what you need and stick to it, youre likely to save yourself more money this way than if you went out impulse shopping.
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