Itís often said that a problem shared is a problem halved ñ yet fewer than a fifth of adults in the UK have someone to confide in about their financial worries, according to research by the Money Advice Service.
The same study shows that 76 per cent of us feel happier about life in general when we feel good about our finances, indicating that many people would benefit from the therapeutic influence of a Money Mate.
ìTalking to a friend is often the first step to dealing with a problem. We all need someone to turn to for help and advice from time to time,î says Peter Turner, managing director of Experian Interactive.
ìWhen you join CreditExpert from Experian you get your own Money Mate at the click of a mouse. More than four million people already trust us to provide the information they need to get on top of their finances and protect themselves from ID fraud. Itíll help you see how well youíre coping with your current commitments and what youíll need to do to get everything in order.î
Like the advice of a good friend, these tips can help you feel more in control of your financial situation ñ and your life in general.
Tidy up your finances
ï Go through statements and bills to find out where your money is going ñ and, if necessary, where you can cut back.
ï Your credit report is your financial CV ñ it lists your credit accounts, from cards and loans to mobile phone accounts, along with your repayment record. Lenders use it to assess whether you are a reliable borrower, so it needs to be accurate and up to date. Itís free to see your Experian credit report and Experian Credit Score with a free 30-day trial of CreditExpert.
ï Check personal details, such as your name, address and date of birth, and if you see a discrepancy contact the relevant lender and ask for an amendment, as even a minor error could mean your credit rating is affected.
ï Missed and late payments stay on your credit report for at least three years, which could have an effect on your credit rating. If there was a legitimate reason for missing a repayment, such as an illness, you can add a note of explanation. If you are just forgetful, it is best to set up monthly direct debits.
ï Close any unused accounts, paying particular attention to any held with someone else ñ your credit status could suffer if he or she has had money troubles.
ï Register to vote at your current address. This shows lenders that you live where you say you do and may improve your credit score.
Tackle excess spending
ï Make a note of your income and outgoings, then set a realistic budget. Set yourself a long-term goal, such as paying off a credit card or saving for a house or car.
ï Price comparison sites such as lowermybills.co.uk can help your money go further on essentials such as utility bills, car and home insurance.
ï Regular treats such as coffee, sandwiches, glossy magazines and nights out can soon add up, so cut down or find cheaper alternatives.
ï Donít be tempted to use a credit card to pay your bills or mortgage and avoid borrowing on one card to pay off another unless youíre sure itís a better deal ñ but always read the small print carefully before you commit.
Stay financially aware
ï If your circumstances change or you are struggling, talk to your lenders ñ they may be able to adjust your payment schedule to make it more affordable. Ignoring problems could result in court action or even bankruptcy, both of which stay on your credit report for at least six years and make it difficult to borrow.
ï Check your credit score regularly to monitor your progress. If it rises, you should qualify for better deals ñ and that will save you cash. You can see your Experian Credit Score for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.