How to deal with money worries smartly

It’s a bit of a bleak time.

This week, for example, started with a day often referred to as Blue Monday.

It’s, sadly, not a celebration of New Order’s classic 1983 single. Instead, a mathematical equation claims that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year.

It’s easy to believe. Short, cold and wet days, combined with the post-Christmas comedown (and everything else that’s going on) is enough for us to wish January was over.

But the whole concept of a single day being worse than any other has been proven to be rubbish, with no scientific grounding.

The truth is it was actually invented almost 20 years ago for a holiday firm’s winter PR push, encouraging us to think ahead to sunnier times by shelling out hard cash.

And every year companies roll out this pseudoscience telling us all we need to do to feel better is spend money. That’s just not true. You might get a quick hit of endorphins, but the real cause of your problems won’t go away.

My advice is to ignore those emails you’ve received with Blue Monday sales unless there’s something you’ve been planning to buy at a good price.

Andy’s best buys: 0% balance transfer cards

If you’re unable to wipe out any credit card debts with savings or your salary, then the interest added each month makes it hard to put a decent dent in what you owe.

To help, you should look at a 0% balance transfer credit card. If you’re accepted for one of these you can get a set duration where no interest is added, so all the money you pay (as much as you can) will go towards reducing, and hopefully clearing, the debt.

There will usually be a transfer fee on the card, though you might be able to avoid this in exchange for a shorter duration.

You’ll need to work out which is best for you. Make sure you use an eligibility checker before applying to see which ones you’re most likely to get.

Watch out for ‘up to’ deals – you might be offered a shorter length.

1. Virgin Money

0% Duration: 35 months

Transfer Fee: 2.94% of the debt

2. Barclaycard

0% Duration: Up to 27 months

Transfer Fee: 1.28% of the debt

3. Sainsbury’s Bank

0% Duration: Up to 21 months

Transfer Fee: 0% of the debt

But I don’t want you to ignore your money worries. It’s highly likely that if you have cash problems they’ll be heightened this month.

You might have got paid earlier in December which, combined with extra festive spending, means it’s a long wait until payday. And if you’ve put any Christmas spending on credit cards or used buy now, pay later services, then those payments could be due very soon.

This is going to put stress on your finances, and potentially your wellbeing, too. Money worries and mental health are very closely linked and can form a vicious cycle where a deterioration in one hurts the other and so on.

The key step to break out of this is to acknowledge there’s an issue, and then seek help. If it’s your mental health that’s your main concern then talk to organisations such as Mind or, if it’s more urgent, contact the NHS.

For money matters, particularly debts you don’t think you can deal with, then get free and independent advice from a charity such as National Debtline or StepChange.

You can, of course, also talk to friends or family members, and this can be a great help, too. It might be a long journey, but over time you’ll hopefully get to a much more balanced place.

If you’re unable to wipe out any credit card debts with savings or your salary, then the interest added each month makes it hard to put a decent dent in what you owe.

To help, you should look at a 0% balance transfer credit card. If you’re accepted for one of these you can get a set duration where no interest is added, so all the money you pay (as much as you can) will go towards reducing, and hopefully clearing, the debt.

There will usually be a transfer fee on the card, though you might be able to avoid this in exchange for a shorter duration.

You’ll need to work out which is best for you. Make sure you use an eligibility checker before applying to see which ones you’re most likely to get.

Watch out for ‘up to’ deals – you might be offered a shorter length.

Andy Webb is an award-winning blogger and podcaster from Be Clever With Your Cash. Follow Andy on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram via @andyclevercash

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

Source: Read Full Article