Consolidating your Finances

As a nation, we’re getting more and more in debt each year, and some of these debts can come with hefty interest rates and fees. So it is easy to see how our finances can quickly and easily spiral out of control. I’m not a financial expert but I wanted to just put a few ideas out there to anyone who struggles with debts and would like to take some control back.

How Do You Take Control?

Well, you start off by doing your research, it shouldn’t take too long but it will give you a better picture of where you stand. Even if it looks awful once you see it all on paper, don’t panic, you knew it wasn’t great and you are making positive steps to change it. So,

Number one, do a thorough income and outgoings list. These lists need to include EVERYTHING there is no point in conning yourself into thinking you have more that you do, it will set you up to fail.

Number two, check your credit score. Your credit report will provide you with a score. The score gives you an indication of how your finances compare to others in your areas and of how financial organisations may categorise you if they were to do a search for you. It also provides you with a list of all the financial organisations you are connected to, who you have debts with, what your defaults look like and your total amount of outstanding debt.

Now you know where you stand, you can start the improvements.

Creating Your Own Plan.

Now you have had site of your financial position as a whole, make use of your free credit report by using it to assess what action to take first. If you want to increase your credit score slightly then making simple changes like ensuring you are on the electoral roll, contacting companies and closing old accounts and disputing any discrepancies on your report can all help boost your score. However, if you really need to put a consolidation plan in place here’s some tips on where to start:

Balance transfer credit cards: If you are racking up more debt, not by spending but by accruing a load of interest and you have a good credit rating, it might be a good idea to consider a 0% balance transfer credit card. This will allow you to consolidate your credit card debts onto one credit card of which you will pay 0% interest for a fixed period of time. Two things to be very careful of here, one is that you must remember to ensure you switch to another 0% card prior to the end of the fixed period (if the debt is not already paid off) and two is that in order for it to work as debt consolidation and actually minimise your debts, you have to keep paying the full amounts off. If you get tempted to make minimal reduced monthly payments all you will be doing is extending the length of time you have your debt.

Mortgages: For most people a mortgage will be the largest most imposing debt they will ever have but because it is a long term debt, quite often we just allow the banks to make changes to the terms of the agreements, shift our mortgages and we allow ourselves to leave it sat there in the background unaware of how much interest is being accrued. How much of our hard earned cash is really being paid into buying our home and how much is going on interest? If you don’t already know, now is the time to check and then shop around, you never know, it might be time to move from our ‘trusty’ local bank to one that can offer us a much better deal and ultimately make quite a dint in one of our biggest debts!

Low interest loans: If you have credit cards appearing on your credit report it’s important that you find out the interest rate being charged if you do not already know. The company contact details will likely be on your report if you don’t already have them, so you can always call to check if you don’t have all your original documentation. If you find that the credit cards have particularly high interest rates, it may be worth looking into getting a low interest loan to consolidate the amount of debt racked up on the cards as loans have a set payment plan it’ll also be much easier to manage than your cards.

To consolidate expensive credit cards

Talk to the companies: Armed with your income and expenditure call the debt collection companies. Ask them about making minimum payments and ask them their advice on any further deals they may be able to offer you. Occasionally and especially for long standing debt, collection agencies will take a slight hit on the amount of return from you by accepting a full and final settlement, it won’t always be on offer and you have to be careful about the detrimental effect on your credit rating but it is worth asking those chasing the debts for potential options for settlement, you might be surprised at how helpful they will be if they think they can wipe your debts from their books sooner rather than later.

Not Comfortable Going It Alone?

If you are considering using a debt management company then do your research first, make sure they are reputable, make sure you have a good idea of the consequences (ie effect on your credit rating) of any plans they suggest, and make sure you have a good understanding of the fees the company will charge. The clip below will start you off thinking about how debt management companies work so you can expand your research to make sure it is the correct choice for you.


Proper Preparation & Planning!

So, you want to get a new job and you think you’re prepared to tackle the recruitment process? Well, let’s make sure you have a really good shot at success by exploring the most important things you MUST have covered to ensure you really stand out as the best candidate for a role.

The Right Job For You.

First things first, have a think about the type of career you currently have, is it the right career for you or do you need to steer your path in another direction or embark on a new challenge? Step two, start to pull together a list of your personality traits, qualifications and experience. Thirdly, open your mind, it is so important that when selecting a role that is right for you, you don’t narrow your chances of a happy and successful career by either dismissing roles without looking at their potential or thinking that you can’t achieve the role you desire. Now you have your mind set in check and a little bit of ‘you data’ start to do your research. Research is your ally, well-meaning advice from friends and loved ones is fine to a point, but it is all anecdotal, to get a broad perspective on what’s waiting out there for you take a really good look into: the profession you would like to work in, the types of companies that match up with your personality type and the job roles that best suit your skill set. If there are jobs out there you know you will be passionate about and happy in and they match up well with your personality traits but you are lacking a few or the qualifications, or some desired experience, research how you can get those qualifications, if there are any work experience opportunities, are there any entry level roles that lead to that role in the future. Never say never. And if you are still struggling to pinpoint the right road to go down then you could consider looking up a career counselor service in your area who will be able to give you further guidance and advice.

All set to Apply?

You’ve decided which direction to go in with your job search you’ve picked a few roles you’d like to apply for and you’re all set to attach your CV and get the ball rolling. But hold your horses, when was the last time you actually looked through your CV? First impressions count, so before you start the application process it is so important that you make sure you have a professional looking CV that is tailored to the roll you are applying for. Firstly, check the basics formatting, grammar, punctuation and that it’s not too long. More often than not one opening will have hundreds of applicants, anything over a couple of pages and badly formatted with glaringly poor grammar and spelling is likely to hit the trash can pretty quick. Secondly, any experience that is not relevant to the job role you are applying for should be scrapped, recruiters don’t have the time to go through irrelevant info and it also shows that you have read the job specification rather than unwittingly applied for jobs in bulk, a great cover letter can assist with this too. If you are struggling with this element then there are lots of good professional CV writing services out there who can help you stand out from the crowd. Once your CV is in tip top condition, still hold your horses, there’s something else to bear in mind…

Be prepared to be researched.

It’s not just the candidate who needs to research, good recruiters will want to make sure they are choosing someone suitable for their company, brand and someone who is worth investing their time and training in, so it’s likely they will be doing there research too and this is why there are lots of companies that carry out background checks. So, before you send that CV, make sure you have your personal brand and background ready to be researched. It’s likely that a company will do; a right to work check, a search of your social media profiles and various other pre-employment checks. Right to work checks are a business requirement as a government measure to minimise the mistreatment of illegal migrant workers, poor housing/working conditions and tax evasion. So as a candidate who has done their research and picked a good company to apply to, you can be sure you’ll have one of these. For this check all you need to do is to ensure you have the correct ‘right to work’ documents available for potential new employers. They will provide you with a list of acceptable documents, validate the documents and make copies for them to retain. In terms of your social media profiles, this is something you can do A LOT about, if your profile is mainly of you doing tequila slammers off barmaids on holiday and shows your ‘fun’ side a little more than it evidences your positive employee traits, you can do one of two things, either do a social media cleanse of all your profiles or lock down your personal profiles so only friends and family can find them, and create a new more business like profiles that are open to the public and will help push your personal brand. Try not to forget that you are going to be packaging yourself up and selling yourself to recruiters, so anything online is part of your marketing. There are other pre-employment checks that may be carried out depending on the role for which you are applying, so be prepared for things like references, background checks that may include credit history, criminal record checks, qualification and health checks. Employers want to know who they are employing before they employ them, just as you should want to know who you will be working for before you sign on the dotted line.