NEW year, new you, right?
A new year can signal a fresh start, and we’ve never needed one more than this year.
Setting new year’s resolutions is a tradition as old as time, but are you setting any financial based goals this year?
Card Smart is our content series, in partnership with Barclaycard, which aims to help you get more confident with using your credit card.
In this edition we’re talking financial goals for 2021. Whether you’ve got a long-term savings goal like a house deposit, or a short-term goal like a holiday, or you just want to pay down your debts, we’re here to help you stick to your resolutions.
If you’re a bit of a pay day millionaire, or a bit too hot on tapping the plastic, then you may have set a goal for better budgeting in 2021.
Setting a budget doesn’t just mean you have more money to spend, it can also mean your credit score improves, and you are more able to avoid late payment fees and interest.
We’ve covered budgeting here, in a previous Card Smart edition, but here are our quick fire, top tips for building a better budget that you can stick to.
- Track your expenses: Understanding how much you’re likely to spend each month means you’re more able to create a realistic budget that you can stick to. An easy way to do this is by using the app or to set handy text or email spending alerts with your credit card provider.
- Split up your one off expenses: If you are expecting a one-off expense over the next year, like a holiday or a new car, it’s a good idea to work out how much it will cost split over 12 months and add it to your budget. By planning ahead and setting a budget, you can still treat yourself without worrying about dipping into your savings.
- Budget for the things you love: Although budgeting is about saving money, being too restrictive could mean that you’ll veer off course pretty quickly. If you can’t go without your morning coffee, or your dinner nights out, then make sure you add that to your budget – to set realistic goals and maintain a life balance that works for you.
You can find out more about budgeting here.
Pay it off
If your financial resolution for 2021 is to pay off your credit card debt, then your budget is a great place to start.
Whether you want to pay down just one credit card, or you have balances on multiple cards, it can be super stressful to keep on top of, but we have some top tips for you for the new year.
- Use a repayment calculator: Using a repayment calculator, like , will show you how a small change to your monthly repayments could make a big difference, meaning you could pay less in interest and pay off your balance faster too.
- Consolidate debts: credit cards can be used to simplify your credit card repayments and reduce the overall cost of borrowing. By avoiding higher interest rates for a limited time, balance transfers with 0% interest offers give you breathing space to pay what you actually owe rather than the monthly interest. By moving your balance(s), not only could you save money, you could also get that debt-free feeling sooner.
To fully benefit from a balance transfer, try and clear what you owe before the interest-free period ends, because after this time the card’s higher annual percentage rate (APR) will be applied to any remaining debt left on the account. You should always make at least the minimum repayments on time, otherwise you’ll incur a fee and/or lose the 0% interest offer on the balance transfer.
- Talk to your provider: If you’re really struggling with paying down your credit card debts then it’s a good idea to discuss this with your credit card provider. They may be able to help you work out a repayment plan that suits your budget.
Build your credit rating
Whether you’re looking to get on the property ladder in 2021, or you just want better deals on financial products, improving your credit score could be key.
There are lots of things you can do to improve your credit rating, and a tool like the Barclaycard Credit Builder Tool is a great place to start. You just need to answer a few simple questions and the tool will help you figure out what you need to do to boost your score.
In the meantime, here are our top tips for ensuring you’ve got your best possible score.
- Check your credit file for mistakes: Go through your credit file with a fine tooth comb and make sure that you recognize everything on there. You could be penalized for fraud or simple mistakes. If you see anything that looks wrong, get in touch with the credit reference agency.
- Register to vote: Registering on the electoral roll will help prove your address to lenders and is a quick and easy way to help improve your credit score. It only takes a few minutes.
- Make your credit card payments on time. Late and missed payments can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years, so make sure you pay on time.
- Pay more than the minimum amount. Not only will this reduce your credit card debt faster, but it could also shows prospective lenders how reliable you are.
- Keep credit card balances to a minimum. Only spend as much as you can afford to pay back and always stay within your credit limit.
To find out more, visit the Barclaycard Get Credit Confident Hub