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Your ultimate checklist for getting control of your cash

Get on top of your finances, stay out of debt and make the most of your money with this ultimate checklist. Here's what you need to do to get control of your cash.

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Write a budget

Writing out a thorough budget detailing all your incomings and outgoings is the only way to get a realistic picture of your financial situation.

It will tell you if you are spending more than you are earning, and where you need to make savings.

Here is how to draw up a budget that will show you exactly where you stand.

Download our comprehensive budget planner spreadsheet - PC version

Download our comprehensive budget planner spreadsheet - Mac version

Cut your debt payments

Pay less for your credit cards

If you have credit card debt, you need to make sure you are paying as little interest as possible.

Look at your credit card statements to find out:

  • What your outstanding balance is

  • How much you are repaying each month

  • What interest rate you pay

If you are being charged a high rate of interest, try to move your balance to a 0% balance transfer credit card.

This could give you more than 40 months of 0% interest in which to pay off the balance of your card, however many charge a fee of up to 4% of the outstanding balance.

Here is everything you need to know about how balance transfers work.

Reduce your mortgage rate

Remortgaging could save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year if you find a better deal. Use our remortgage comparison to find a lower rate.

You may be charged an early repayment fee when you pay off your old mortgage, so work out if the saving is worth it before you remortgage. If you are on your lender's standard variable rate, you should be able to switch to a cheaper deal without paying a fee.

Cut the cost of your overdraft

If you use your current account's overdraft facility you could save by switching to an account that charges a lower interest rate, or smaller fees.

Some accounts come with free overdrafts that do not charge any interest when you use them.

Here is how overdrafts work

Consolidate your loans

If you have outstanding loans, look at how much interest you are being charged because you could pay less with a consolidation loan.

You can use one to pay off all your existing loans, so you have one payment to make. Look for a consolidation loan that charges a lower rate than you are already paying.

Here is how to work out whether you should consolidate your debts

Switch to cheaper deals

Change your energy supplier

Switching your energy supplier could save you more than £200 a year on your bills.

Here is what you need to do to switch your gas and electricity. You can compare energy deals by using our postcode checker to find the best prices in your area.

Switch your current account

Changing your current account could save you money, and some can even earn you some extra cash too.

If you always have a positive balance, look for a high interest current account that could earn you extra money.

Swap your broadband provider

If your contract has come to an end, make sure you shop around for the best broadband deal.

You could even switch provider during your policy if you find a much cheaper deal. However, you may be charged a fee of up to £80, or have to pay the remainder of your contract.

Here is how to switch your broadband

Get a new landline deal

You could save money by switching your landline to a cheaper plan. You can compare landline deals to find the best contract for you at the right price.

Find out how to save money on your landline package here

Pay less for insurance

By shopping around and comparing quotes, you should be able to find cheaper insurance deals and cut your premiums.

Never let any policy roll over automatically when it ends, because you will not be getting the best deal.

Use our comparisons to find the best deals for your:

Here is more information on how insurance works

Check benefits and tax

Make sure you are not paying more tax than you should be:

If you find out you have been paying more tax than you should, you might be able to claim it back. Here is how to claim your tax back.

Look at what benefits you could get

Check to see if you could be claiming:

  • Universal credit: This has replaced a number of benefits, and you could claim for this if you need income support or housing benefits. Here is how universal credit works.

  • Child benefits: If you have children, you may be eligible to claim Child Benefit, or be able to get childcare vouchers.

  • Winter fuel payments: If you are over 63, you could claim up to £300 to help cover your winter fuel bills. Find out if you could be eligible here.

If you are not sure which benefits you are entitled to, you can use the entitledto.co.uk benefits calculator, which can show you what you could be claiming for.

Here is more advice on how to work out what benefits you are entitled to

Cut back your spending

If you are spending too much, you may need to cut back on a few things to get your finances back on track. Try to spend less on things like:

  • Groceries, e.g. buy cheaper brands or try a different store

  • Entertainment, e.g. spend less on going out or reduce your TV subscription

  • High street shopping, e.g. cut back on electronics, clothes and beauty products

  • Travel costs, e.g. lift share to work to spend less on petrol

These changes can be harder to make because it may mean cutting back on the things you enjoy, but they may be necessary to get your finances into shape.

Do your budget again

When you have been through your finances and made some savings, or increased your income, go back and write another budget from scratch.

If you were overspending before, hopefully you have been able to cut your outgoings enough to see an underspend each month.

If you have reduced your debt payments, switched to cheaper deals and cut back your day-to-day bills but are still overspending, you may need to seek debt advice.

Here is how to get free debt help, including which charities could help you.

Your final checklist

Go through our ultimate checklist and see how many you can tick off:

  • Write a budget

  • Pay less for your credit cards

  • Reduce your mortgage rate

  • Cut your overdraft payments

  • Consolidate your loans

  • Change your energy supplier

  • Switch your current account

  • Swap your broadband provider

  • Get a new landline deal

  • Pay less for car insurance

  • Save on travel insurance

  • Cut the cost of home insurance

  • Reduce your pet insurance

  • Check your council tax

  • Check your income tax

  • Check universal credit

  • Check child benefits

  • Check winter fuel payments

  • Use a benefit calculator

  • Reduce your grocery bill

  • Spend less on entertainment

  • Avoid the shops

  • Slash your travel costs

  • Get debt help if you need it

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.