FCA Plans To Help Customers With Credit Card Debt

FCA plans to help customers with credit card debt

Consumers with credit card debt could benefit from greater help with their debt, if plans by the Financial Conduct Authority go ahead as planned. The FCA have put a proposal in place to ensure credit card companies are offering more help for those who have paid more interest and charges than they have paid back on their outstanding balance, within 18 months. This may be welcome news for borrowers who feel that they are caught in a never-ending cycle with their credit card debts and constantly fire-fighting, without seeing any noticeable difference.

 

FCA proposals

As part of the proposal, there would be three steps put into place, which credit card companies would need to follow for customers who are suffering as a result of long-standing debt. The first step would be for the credit card company to request that the customer starts to make quicker repayments, if it shows that they have been in regular debt for 18 months. If the debt continues onto a further 18 months, a repayment plan would then be put in place, so that customers can pay their debt back in affordable amounts. If the customer fails to make these payments, they would not be able to use their cards and in some cases, interest and charges would be cancelled to help the customer make repayments.

 

Credit card debts

An astounding 3.3 million people are caught in persistent debt and 1.8 million are experiencing this problem at least twice over 18 months. This figure shows how huge this issue is and how many people are struggling to make ends meet. The problem is much greater than most people would realise and for credit card companies, it is more beneficial to have customers in debt, as in many cases, all they are really doing is paying interest. The plans would mean that customers would save money and the total amount saved could be as high as £13 billion by 2030.

 

Help for customers

In addition to this, the FCA are looking for credit card companies to offer better financial help to their customers, particularly when they notice they are having financial issues. The proposal would require credit card companies to keep track of payments by customers and to use the data to understand when customer repayments are not as regular as they had been previously. It is also suggested that credit card companies would let customers know that they have the right not to be told of any credit limit increases, as this is what can quite easily cause credit card debts to spiral out of control.

 

Why credit card debt is so high

Although income levels have stayed the same, credit card debts have continued to increase. There is an average credit card debt of £2,500 per household and this is at the highest level in 11 years. In most cases, consumers are not using their credit cards for luxuries, they are using them to make ends meet and this worrying trend looks set to continue. With the cost of food and other bills on the rise, it is no wonder that households are feeling the pressure and hitting the plastic. Initial free interest periods, followed by high rates are causing consumers to take out credit cards under, what could be viewed as, false pretences. The introduction of contactless cards also makes it much easier for consumers to spend money quickly.

 

Credit card alternatives

Credit cards are not the only option and in fact, should be a last resort. It can be good to have a credit card for emergencies, but this can also prove too tempting for some consumers to resist. Saving your money is by far the most preferable option, or taking out a payday loan might end up costing less, as long as you pay it back as soon as it is due. The fact is that with credit cards, you don’t really feel like you are actually spending money, so the bills can be a shock, especially when interest is added. It is not always easy to avoid debt, especially if your income tends to fluctuate, but it is important to take the most sensible option, based on your own circumstances.


7 Tips For Discussing Money Topics With Your Partner

 

7 tips for discussing money topics with your partner

Money is one of those issues that people don’t often like to bring up when in a relationship. If there is a big difference in earnings, it usually won’t be discussed at all in the early stages and both parties will usually pay equally. However, when your relationship becomes serious and you move in together, it is important to discuss money with your partner and be open and honest about your financial situation. Honesty is always the best policy and being upfront can make the relationship stronger. These are some tips for discussing money topics with your partner.

 

1. Outstanding debts

If you are planning to buy a home together, your credit score will be checked, so any outstanding debts you have will come to the surface. This is why it is so important to be honest about your finances with your partner. If you have a lot of debt, let your partner know. If they are the right person, they will understand and won’t judge you. A lack of honesty about finances will usually be found out eventually. If you are honest, you can help each other out when you need it – so it benefits both parties to be upfront.

 

2. Create financial goals

You may want to consider creating financial goals, so you know what direction you are going and whether the two of you are on the same journey. For example, if you both love travelling, you may be happy to save together to create your dream or if you prefer to buy things for the home, then you may want to save towards this. It is really important that you both have the same financial goals for the future. For instance, if one person is interested in travelling and the other is more materialistic, it may cause problems down the line.

 

3. Set boundaries

It is important to set your own boundaries when it comes to money, otherwise it will end up affecting your relationship. Many people put this off as it can take the fun out of moving in together or generally progressing the relationship, but it is important to understand who pays what. You may want to split everything equally, or if you earn more than your partner (or vice versa), you might be happy for the main breadwinner to pay more.

 

4. Payment plans

Sit down and discuss how you will pay your bills. For example, will they be direct debits from a joint account or will you both be responsible for paying different bills? If you do this, there will be less confusion and you will have a good understand of who is responsible for paying each bill. Whatever you do, don’t hide bills from your partner, as this is a sure-fire way to cause major issues in your relationship further down the line.

 

5. Budget together

It doesn’t really matter how much you have or who earns more – you can still budget together and make your money last. As a couple, you may decide to try doing as much fun, free things or make meals at home instead of eating out. If you work together with things like this, you can create a stronger relationship and savings at the same time.

 

6. Stick to your guns

As much as it is a partnership and being honest about finances is important, you should stick to your guns and not be swayed by your partner. For example, if you would rather keep a separate bank account, rather than a shared account, let your partner know this and stand your ground. You are perfectly entitled to manage your own money and many people choose this option, as after all, we don’t really know what will happen in the future.

 

7. Seek help

If you find that you are arguing with your partner about your finances, it may be a good idea to seek some professional help. It may be that one of you has spending habits which are out of control and the other isn’t happy about it! Sitting down and discussing this with an expert, can help you to manage it and hopefully, reduce any stress about money. It is not worth wrecking a relationship just because of money, so always look to get help if you need it.


Summer Is Coming! How To Make Your Money Stretch Over The Holidays

Summer is coming! How to make your money stretch over the holidays

The summer months are nearly upon us and if you are low on funds, you might be dreading the prospect of it. If you don’t have a lot of money to spare, this doesn’t mean you can’t go on holiday, you just need to be a bit more careful with your planning and spending. These are some ways to make your money stretch over the holidays, while also ensuring you have a great, worry-free time.

 

Holiday at home

It isn’t always necessary to go abroad on holiday, there are usually plenty of things to do in the country we reside and these can be just as good, but less expensive. You can instantly cut down costs on flights and general spending if you holiday at home and you’ll probably get to see some exciting places in your local area that you have never noticed before.

 

Book early

You can save a fortune on your holiday if you book it early enough. You can often pick up flights for as little as £10 to travel around Europe if you manage to book in advance. The closer it gets to the holiday, the greater the flight prices usually get, so book it now and go later. You will only need to pay the cost of the accommodation, which generally won’t change greatly over the space of a few months or more.

 

Share accommodation

Generally speaking, the more people you have in an apartment, the lower the costs will be. With apartments, you usually pay for the accommodation, rather than per person. If you can get a good group of people to share your accommodation, you will really drive your costs down.

 

Borrow summer clothes

As soon as a holiday approaches, most of us start to worry about the clothes we will need and the huge cost of going on a shopping spree. However, this is generally unnecessary spending. Holiday clothes are often not worn again, so ask your friends and family if you can borrow some summer clothes from them. This will instantly cut down your costs before you even get on holiday.

 

Free activities

Believe it or not, you don’t usually need to take a lot of spending money on holiday, you just need to be careful with your cash. Instead of lying around at the pool all day, ordering endless drinks and snacks, take a walk and see the local sights. Not only will you get exercise and some knowledge of the place you visit, you will also save a lot of cash at the same time. There are always plenty of free activities to enjoy on holiday, even if it’s just a simple walk in a park or a day relaxing with a homemade picnic.

 

Self-catering

This is often a more cost effective option, as you can buy your food at the local supermarket and make up your own meals in your hotel or apartment. The option of self-catering can save you a lot of the expenditure of eating meals out all day every day – which can add up. This isn’t to say that you don’t enjoy the odd meal out here and there, it’s just about being sensible with your cash.

 

Cashback websites

You should always make your holiday booking via a cashback site, if possible. This will help you save money, as you will usually get a percentage or flat fee back after making your booking. Most people don’t use these websites but when you consider you are getting money for purchases you were already making, it makes sense to do this. This might also give you some extra cash to spend on your holidays, so it is worthwhile.

 

Pay cash

It is a good idea to use cash instead of credit cards when you are spending money on holiday. Not only is this a better way of managing your finances, it also saves you paying interest fees. When you pay cash, you can set budgets for each day and it makes it much more manageable to control. If you use cards for all your spending, you will have much less control over your spending and this is the way you end up accumulating a lot of debt.


6 Ways To Make Money Quickly

 

6 ways to make money quickly

An unexpected bill has arrived or you completely forgot your rent is due and you have no cash left in your account. Sound familiar? This could be a complete disaster, but before you start panicking, there are things you can do to get cash quickly, so all is definitely not lost here. Believe it or not, many of us find ourselves in these situations and more often than we would all probably care to admit. Taking positive action is an important way to cope with these situations, sitting around and worrying will definitely not do anything to solve it. These are some methods you might want to use to make money for your bills as quickly as possible.

 

1. Sell online

There are probably loads of items just lying around your home, which you could quite easily sell on to make some extra cash. It may not be much, but every little helps in these situations. Quite often, debtors will be happy to accept at least some kind of payment, so anything is much better than nothing. Sell your items on eBay, Amazon or even Facebook groups and you never know how much you could end up making.

 

2. Do some freelance work

If you have some useful skills and experience, you might be able to pick up some freelance work from websites such as Upwork. There are usually projects you can work on, which due to the urgent nature, will probably pay out quite quickly. Alternatively, you might want to ask around to see if anyone needs some odd jobs taken care of around their home or even try some dog walking or babysitting when you have spare time.

 

3. Ask friends and family

No one really likes to go to their friends and family when they are down on their luck, but if you really need some cash – they will understand. It happens to everyone at some point and anyone who is worth being in your life, will not look down on you for asking for a loan. The good thing about borrowing from friends and family is that you can get the money quickly and means you are not robbing Peter to pay Paul. However, it is a good idea to only ask friends and family who you think have extra cash to spare, as otherwise you might put them in a position to lend money when they can’t afford it.

 

4. Payday loans

Although there should always be careful consideration when taking out any kind of debt, payday loans can often act as a lifeline for many people in these kinds of situations. As long as you can definitely afford to pay it back and you take into account the interest on it, payday loans can help you deal with any finance shortfalls, so you can pay your bills on time. If your friends and family are not able to help and you need the money quickly, payday loans can offer a quick and easy solution. Payday loans are usually paid out within the same day as the application is made, which is ideal if you are in dire need of some funds.

 

5. Get an advance

It might be impossible, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get. If you have exhausted other avenues, it may be worthwhile asking your boss if they could give you an advance until you get paid. This is probably a more common request than you might think and you never know what the answer may be. Some companies just won’t have the capability to do this, while others will be happy to help out. Have a quick word with your boss and see what they say.

 

6. Temporary assignments

If you are working part-time or have some spare hours over the weekend, have you considered taking on a temporary assignment. If you contact recruitment agencies in your local area, you never know what work they might be able to offer you. The great thing about this is that you are usually paid weekly, so it can be a good option if you need your cash quickly. It is important not to over-work yourself but even if you do this for a few weeks, you will feel a difference in your wallet.


How To Get Your Finances In Order Through A Savings Plan

How to get your finances in order through a savings plan

If your current financial situation is far from perfect, it might be time to start a savings plan. There are many reasons why you might want to save. A financial nest egg can be useful when unexpected bills arise, such as car repairs and you need access to funds quickly. Some people use their savings to pay for special occasions, such as birthdays and Christmas, or holidays. Savings can be a good alternative to taking out credit and although it can be difficult to do this, it can help you stick to a tight budget.

 

Getting started

If you are considering saving some of your cash, there are some considerations you must make first. It is important to pay off any outstanding debts, before you start saving and in particular, priority debts such as rent and electricity. You should also look at your budget and what you have left over each month to put into your savings pot. There are likely to be some ways you can cut back on your spending, so you have extra cash for your savings. For example, you may be able to walk to work instead of taking public transport or prepare your lunch, instead of buying it. A good way to think about it is non-essential items versus essential items. If you need to purchase something, such as your weekly food shop, then of course, this is essential and you can’t go without. However, there are bound to be times when you are spending money frivolously on items you really don’t need. Even small amounts can be used to improve your savings.

 

Set up a direct debit

The best way to ensure you stick to a savings plan is to set up a direct debit each month and make sure you can’t access it quickly. It can be too tempting to keep moving your savings into your current account, if you can view it every time you log into your account. If the money comes out and you can’t get quick access to it, you are less likely to go to the hassle of moving it into your account, which means your savings will grow. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to save much; every little helps and you can always increase your savings if your financial situation improves. If you can even afford to save £10 a month, it is better than nothing!

 

Long term versus short term

There are two types of savings; long and short term. Short term savings are those which are usually for a specific occasion, such as a wedding or birthday, while long term savings might be a nest egg for retirement. If you are saving for short term reasons, you should make sure you choose an account which allows you access to your funds within the set time you need it. However, if your plan is to save for the long term, it is more beneficial to choose an account which doesn’t allow access for 5-10 years or more. There are all sorts of options when it comes to savings accounts, so just choose one which is best suited to your needs. It is always best to go for the accounts with the highest interest rates, as you will get more out of your money when you do this.

 

Improving your savings

When you start saving, it can become quite addictive and can make you much smarter with your spending. If you want to start increasing the amount you are saving each month, start setting yourself goals for how much you are looking to save. It may be that you are quite happy to save only £10 a month, but this might gradually increase to £50 per month. If you set goals, you will have a target to focus on and this will make you better with your savings. A clear budget is also essential for improving your savings and looking at different ways to cut your spending. It is also important to shop around with your savings account, so you get the best possible deal based on the amount you save. You want to maximise your savings and comparing accounts is the best way to do this. There are always ways to improve your savings, you just need to be smart with your spending!


How To Cope With School Holidays – On A Budget

How to cope with school holidays – on a budget

 

If you have children, you probably feel that they are never at school and you are constantly trying to find different ways to keep them entertained. As one holiday season closes, another opens and it is soon time to crack open those Easter eggs – which means more time off for children. If you have a small budget to work with, these times can become truly frustrating but it is important to remember that children are generally easily amused. You don’t need to take them for lunch every day or down to your local bowling alley to keep them entertained. There are many cost free ways to keep children occupied; while still ensuring they have a great time during their break.

 

Baking

Children love to bake (and to lick the spoon!) and this is a cheap way to keep them amused for the day. It is also a good way for children to learn and you can pick up recipes online. This is fun, easy and enjoyable – especially on a rainy day!

What child doesn’t love to watch movies and you can make it exciting by setting your living area up like a cinema. Get the snacks out, duvets, cushions and have a movie day with your children – they will love it.

 

Painting

Why not get the paints out and sit down with your child to enjoy this activity during their holidays. Children love to paint and even more so if they have your full attention and encouragement at the same time. This activity is pretty much cost free, but highly enjoyable for children.

 

Go to the park

If the weather is nice, you might want to take your children to the local park to enjoy the fresh air and have some fun. You may even want to take a little picnic with you. Children love nothing more than playing on the swings and chutes, so consider this cost free option; before you over spend on other activities.

 

Library

Most libraries cater for children over the holidays and if you take a look, you will be likely to find a range of activities for them to enjoy – including book reading and puppet shows. If not, you can still have fun by letting them have a look around and picking up their favourite books to read. Most children love reading; so this is not just educational – but lots of fun too!

 

Have a party

Why not combine your own fun with your children by hosting a party? You don’t need to spend much on this; a few snacks and some music will be more than enough to keep the children amused. You can also invite their mum or dad over to keep you company while the children play.

 

Play games

Children love anything to do with games and you can easily fill out an entire day with different games for them to enjoy. You might want to dig out the board games, organise a treasure hunt or have a go at hide and seek. These are just a few options, but there are many others and you can get lots of ideas by searching online. Not only good fun, but also cost free!

 

Pound shop

Children don’t have any concept of the value of money, so if you give them a few pounds to spend in the pound shop, they will be more than happy. This gives them the chance to find something they like and they’ll be keen to get back home to play with their new toys. It might be a good time for you to grab 5 or 10 minutes of peace – you never know!

 

Visit the pet store

As long as you make it clear that you won’t be coming home with a pet, this is a great cost-free idea for keeping your children amused during one of their days off. Everyone loves to visit the pet store as a child and they will love doing this and you might too!

 

Write a story

Children love to read and this is a great way to get them involved in a story. You can take turns to write a sentence each, so that a full story is eventually developed. They can let their imagination run wild and it is a really good way for them to learn too.