Tag Archives: new year

Our top 20 most-read articles of 2015

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2015 has seen MoneyAware hit the big time! We recently celebrated five years of blogging (we had a cake), and cumulatively passed 2 million visitors and 5 million pages viewed.

But what did you read when you popped in to see us here? We regularly update our top 10 articles of all time on MoneyAware, but what are our most-viewed articles published in 2015?

Let’s take a look at how the numbers add up…

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I resolve to start an emergency fund this year

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So you’ve made the usual New Year’s resolutions. You’ve resolved to go on a diet, take more exercise, take up a new hobby and stop drinking. And you’ve already you’ve broken the majority of them.

The wine’s back in the fridge and the vow to never eat chocolate again finished at half midnight on New Year’s Day. You were going to go for a brisk walk in the fresh air but the dog developed a limp and it was snowing outside, so you succumbed once again to the sanctuary of the sofa and Netflix.

Don’t feel so bad. It happens to most of us. Very often, resolutions can quickly become difficult to sustain. There’s a lot of pressure that comes along with keeping a resolution. One minor slip-up, and it can feel like it’s all come crashing down and there’s just no point to persevere with it.

There is, however, one resolution that you should make and keep this year; start an emergency fund.

Why you need an emergency fund

At this time of the year, some emergency always seems to crop up out of the blue and catch you off guard. It could be anything from the car packing up to something more serious, such as job loss.

Research we’ve carried out shows that a small amount of savings can stop an unexpected expense turning into a debt problem. Over half of the people we asked told us that emergency costs they had to pay could have been covered with savings of £300.

In other words, an emergency fund can help to stop the need to use credit to pay for unexpected expenses; they could help resolve the problem.

Nothing to do with the weather!

The unexpected can occur at any time, and it’s important to put some money aside in case of an emergency, to pay for bills just like this. You never know what may happen to your job, family or health, so it’s wise to be ready for the unknown.

A rainy day fund or an emergency fund is savings that you keep separate from any other accounts and only touch when a true emergency arises.

New ‘must have’ shoes in the January sales do not constitute an ‘emergency’. Neither does decorating the front room or buying a new sofa because the current one doesn’t match the wallpaper.

Determine how much you can afford to save

You’re probably thinking, “Yes, I agree, but putting something aside is impossible”. After all, you struggle to make ends meet as it is.

However, even if you don’t have much to save, it doesn’t matter. Even a small amount each month will soon add up.

Try to aim to save enough to cover at least three months’ worth of mortgage payments and priority bills. Don’t worry if you do not have this money immediately. Take time to build your fund up gradually.

Examples savings that could pay for an emergency fund

  • Save your change: Don’t spend any small change you get but at the end of the day, empty your purse or pockets into a jar. Once a month go to the bank and put it into a savings account. You’ll be amazed how quickly it mounts up
  • Open a separate savings account: At lot of people start emergency funds with good intentions, but then dip into it as soon as it starts to grow. Keep your emergency fund separate from your other accounts and only use the money in a true emergency. Make sure you can get at your money easily when you need it. Credit unions are becoming more and more popular as an alternative to high street banks.
  • Cut back on unnecessary spending and put the money you save in the bank: Items such as weekly magazines, coffee on the way to work and meals out all add up. Keep a spending diary. Look at where your money is going and find things that can be cut back.
  • Stop smoking: An obvious one but this would save you £8 a day (based on a 20-a-day habit) or a staggering £2920 over a year (and if there are two smokers in the family, double this).

Emergencies tend to crop up when you are least prepared. The majority of us will take out the already battered credit card and use this, but if you’re canny, you save now and save a lot of worry later.

Have you broken any of your New Year’s resolutions yet? Was starting an emergency fund one of them? We would love to hear your experiences!


Your New Year debt resolutions

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This classic article was first published in December 2010, but the advice is great whatever New Year we’re celebrating!

Goals resolutions list

What are your debt resolutions?

Big Ben strikes midnight, the last chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ fades and the New Year begins. Most of us by now will have compiled a New Year’s resolution list and no doubt it’ll look remarkably similar to last year’s broken promises!

The most common resolution is usually to make this the year that you lose that weight you’ve been trying to shift. But before you make a beeline for the gym, why not get your finances in order and consider going on a debt diet.

According to R3, almost 19 million people in Britain are worried about their debts. So as well as losing lbs, resolve to lose £s of debt. Whittle away your debts as well as your waist!

The key to sticking to your resolutions is breaking them down into sizeable chunks that are easy to follow within a reasonable timescale. These 11 New Year’s resolutions for 2011 will help ease the pressure this year and leave you to worry about the weight instead!

Your New Year debt resolutions

1. I will not bury my head in the sand
The first important step is to face up to your situation and keep on top of your post. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and can often make it worse. Read this post from one of our debt advisors.

2. I will create a realistic budget and stick to it
Budgeting is at the heart of good financial planning. Try keeping a spending diary to help you keep a track of where your money goes each month.

3. I will prioritise my debts
Priority debts are more important than your creditor debts as the consequences for non-payment are more serious. Take a look at our guide which explains more about priority and non-priority debts.

4. I will make sure my mortgage or rent is paid on time
One of the most important priorities is your mortgage or rent payments. Unforeseen circumstances can see arrears build up out of your control. It’s essential to know what to do and where to go for help if this situation arises.

5. I will look at cutting back on non–essentials
Review any extravagant spending – do you need the full Sky package and the expensive lunches at work? Consider Freeview instead of paying for channels and taking packed lunches instead.

6. I will get a copy of my credit report
To keep track of your debts and creditworthiness, check your credit file. This Credit Explained booklet (PDF file) gives you lots of useful information on credit reference agencies and how to obtain your file.

7. I will look for ways to increase my income
Read our money-saving blogposts on making extra cash in the New Year.

8. I will start an emergency fund
You never know when things can take a turn for the worse. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to rely on the credit card whenever something unexpected crops up? Even putting away a few pounds a month can soon mount up and give you that extra buffer you need. Read our Emergency Fund blogpost.

9. I will share my financial difficulties with my partner so I don’t have to struggle alone
It’s useful to have a good support system around you so that you can share your concerns and celebrate your successes together. If you feel that you can’t discuss it with your partner, you could consider joining a debt forum for support, such as moneysavingexpert.com

10. I will shop around for the best deals on utilities
This can take time to do properly but could save you lots over the year – use comparison and cashback websites to maximise the amount you save.

11. I will get out of debt and look for help and advice
The bills from Christmas will soon be falling through the letterbox and if you find yourself wondering how on earth you will cope, contact us for advice. You can use our free online debt advice service Debt Remedy to help you work out a budget and look at the options that are available to you.

Have you made your New Year spending resolutions yet? We’d love to hear yours…