Welcome to our monthly advice column from Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton. Each month, we’ll be tackling an advice query about a specific issue, sharing information and letting you know where to go for support. Remember, if you need any advice you can contact our team: phone 0808 278 7804 or visit www.cabb.org.uk to find out more about our advice by video service or to self-refer.

I keep seeing on the news that my bills could be going up soon. It’s making me really worried, especially as I spent more on Christmas than I should have. How can I get my spending habits back on track in 2022?

A lot of people will be asking themselves this question right now. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to be more in control of your money and better prepared for the future.

Firstly, find out exactly what money you have coming in and going out each month. Be realistic about what you need for essentials like food and travel. Then you can set yourself a budget that you can stick to – take a look at the budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website to help you do this. 

If any of your bills do go up in the coming year, you can go back to our budgeting tool anytime to create a new plan and stay in control. Our website tips on how to reduce your regular living costs may be helpful if you find you have more money going out than coming in at any point.

You should also make sure you’re getting all the income you’re entitled to. Use the income checker on the Citizens Advice website to see if you could be getting more support, such as benefits or government grants. You can also use this to make sure you’re being paid the right wage.

If you’ve been using credit cards, your overdraft or store cards for your spending, it’s understandable if these debts are causing you worry. It’s important to prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, plus energy bills and Council Tax first though. Not paying these has the most serious consequences. On the Citizens Advice website, we have advice about which bills you need to prioritise and the support available for paying these and other bills

Once you have planned how to pay your priority bills, the budgeting tool can help you plan how to repay credit cards, overdraft charges and store cards. 

Everyone’s circumstances are different, particularly when it comes to managing personal finances. If you need more specific support or don’t feel able to manage your situation alone, call our debt helpline: 0800 240 4420. You’re not on your own. 

If you need help or are worried about your situation, we can help. Get in touch with us free on 0808 278 7804, view our drop-in information or visit cabb.org.uk for more ways to access support.

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