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For many UK households, January can be a particularly bleak month in financial terms. November and December often see increased spending in preparation for Christmas. There is the pressure to buy gifts and to attend social events, followed by pressure to spend extra funds on seasonal food for festivities at home. These are additional costs that fall outside of those normally expected and, even when a household has budgeted strictly for them, it is easy to stray beyond those plans once the invitations and special offers start to flow. 
 
So, with the festive season bringing increased outgoings, what about income? Many people find that the time lapse between their December and January paydays seems unusually long as employers take into account the Christmas period. For those on zero hour contracts, or those paid hourly or weekly in jobs that close over the Christmas break, income between December and January can be significantly reduced, too. This makes financial management in January difficult because it comes at a time when utility bills are already higher due to winter conditions, bank balances are lower due to overspending, and credit card bills that also reflect those Christmas pressures are due for payment. January, then, requires a very specific, post-Christmas money management strategy, but it also presents an opportunity for a brand new approach to personal debt management. 
 
New year, new strategy 
 
It is never too late to implement a new, improved strategy for managing your money. Elements that impact your financial situation are shifting all the time. As you work to reduce personal debt, a variety of unexpected and sometimes costly issues will continue to arise. When personal debt becomes overwhelming, it can feel like every day is a ‘rainy day,’ and problems like property or vehicle repairs coupled with changes to employment or health status can have a big effect. Flexibility, then, is important, and your strategies should always be under review. 
 
January is a good time to tackle your finances with renewed vigour and some fresh commitment, though. As you think about your New Year’s Resolutions, think about how you can privately resolve to improve your financial situation in 2022, right from the start. Putting those choices and decisions in place from the earliest days of January means you can weather the bleakness of that post-Christmas period and start to make progress all at the same time. By focussing on this in a proactive way, the risk of taking on additional debt to deal with Christmas bills can be reduced. There are three main steps to taking back control of your financial situation: 
 
List your debts 
 
You need to know exactly what your debts are if you are going to be able to manage them in a more effective way. That means listing every detail – the total owed, the repayment schedule and interest rate, along with all relevant account and reference numbers. Along with this, you should gather all documentation pertaining to the debts, including correspondence from the creditors and their legal representatives. Getting all of this information together in one place will give you a complete view of the big picture which, in turn, enables you to make a plan. 
 
Make a plan 
 
Now you know exactly what your debt situation is, you can start to plan your way out of it. You should make this plan as part of a wider budget because your regular income and outgoings also need to be accommodated. So, set out all your regular utility bills, then add in your debt repayments in order of priority. For example, your mortgage would come first because falling behind on this debt risks losing your home. Car repayments may come next, if you rely on your vehicle for work or family transport. Work your way through your monthly finances in this way until you have a completely clear view of the debt repayments you are able to make. Once the plan is made, commit to sticking to it. 
 
Get expert advice 
 
In making your plan, you may well find that there are debt repayments you are currently unable to meet as part of your monthly finance management. That is, your regular bills and debt obligations outweigh the amount of money coming in. This is the point at which it is imperative to seek the advice of insolvency experts. Rather than struggling under the weight of the anxiety these excess debts cause, the guidance of qualified and licensed Insolvency Practitioners can quickly set you on the path to greater financial control, helping you make 2022 the year that you become free of ‘bad debt.’ 
 
The Smith & Barnes solution 
 
Smith & Barnes Insolvency Practitioners can provide low cost, straightforward, professional advice to anyone struggling with personal debt. Whether this is a long-term issue, or a situation that has spun out of control during the Christmas period, the highly experienced Smith & Barnes team can help alleviate that stress by offering bespoke solutions that are tailored to your specific circumstances. 
 
Smith & Barnes are fully aware of the stigma that surrounds personal debt issues and are therefore committed to the provision of an accessible and friendly service that prioritises privacy and confidentiality above all else. This may take the form of advice and consultation, or the negotiation of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement which sees Smith & Barnes act on your behalf in negotiations with creditors. This can be an effective way to reduce, and eventually clear debt under the supervision of qualified experts. 
 
January 2022 doesn’t need to be the bleak and stressful financial situation you expect it to be. Instead, this Christmas could be the point at which you regain financial stability, enabling you to relax and enjoy the festivities without having to worry about what follows. Most importantly, by taking these steps now, you could lay the groundwork for making next Christmas even merrier. Contact Smith & Barnes Insolvency Practitioners today to find out how to deal with your debt in a new way this new year. 
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