Getting your festive finances in order

This time of year is a real
strain on families finances, it’s so difficult you feel like you need to spend
X amount just to keep up with everyone else. 
There is a huge pressure to give your children as much as you can even
if it means stretching yourself to breaking point!

Usually we would apply for another credit card just to
tide us over and then clear it as soon as we could in the New Year. I am surprised its only one in five worrying
about the cost of Christmas – I feel it gets bigger each year, now we have
Christmas Eve Boxes and Elves visiting with daily treats (Bah humbug indeed!)
to go with the mountain of presents children seem to get these days, the weight
of Christmas debt is crushing us. I try
and scale it back, but it’s hard when the boys expectations are shaped by
society as a whole. You just seem to spend the whole of December wrapping presents…

Its no wonder January is the most
depressing month with all the debt repayments that follow Christmas. You need to be as savvy as you can though if
you do need to get into debt, look for the best interest rates on credit cards,
shop around, and do your research. If
you have a bad credit score you might be offered a very uncompetitive rate – so
check sites like www.clearscore.com
to see what you can do to help improve matters and pay as little interest as
possible.

Hubbie and I are already signed
up we liked that Clearscore is completely free to use and very
informative. 34% surveyed did not know
anything about their credit score because of the cost involved finding out, but
with Clearscore there are no such excuses for keeping your head in the
sand. You can flag up any issues you
have if you’re worried about irregular debt and see graphically how your debt
is doing (ours is finally showing a downward trend hooray!).

Justin Basini, CEO of free credit checking service ClearScore, said: “Lenders reserve the
lowest rates for those with better credit scores, so it pays to start improving
yours now.”

Here are his tips to help you get a better score:

1. Sign up to see your credit score – you can get can your free
score and report at ClearScore and track your progress using our handy
Timeline.

2. Check your report thoroughly, regularly and always before
applying for credit – report and correct any mistakes you see as this could be
damaging your score.

3. Make sure that your bank and any credit providers have your
correct address. (it sounds obvious but its amazing how many people don’t notify everyone when they change address).

4. Ensure you’re registered on the electoral roll – this is a very
simple way of boosting your score. (We were turned down for credit cards before hubbie was added to the electoral role so I would definitely agree with tip number 4!).

5. Make sure that your name is on some utility accounts – the
greater the evidence that you borrow and repay your credit regularly, the
better your credit score will be.

6. Your score will increase if you use a smaller percentage of
your available credit limit.

The best approach to Christmas is probably not
to get into debt at all, but I get that it’s not always feasible. In that case do get your credit score and
improve it as much as you can before applying for the short term credit you need, you won’t regret
putting in a little effort to secure a better rate.

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