We’re constantly being told by politicians, commentators, and pundits that the economy is in really good shape and that we have nothing to worry about. But these views don’t seem to be backed up by the statistics I’m reading suggesting that personal debt is at its highest level for years and that many people are really struggling week to week and month to month because their wages are still growing much more slowly than prices.
Consumers are spending a higher proportion of their take home pay on essentials and many are now paying for these essentials using a credit card because they don’t have enough money each month to cover everything.
If that is the situation right now, when interest rates are really low, it suggests that many of us are in for a really bumpy ride when they start to increase.
If your budget is tight and you are worried about a rise in rates then perhaps now is the time to make sure that your finances are in order.
If you have a variable rate mortgage then you might want to look at remortgage options sooner rather than later. A fixed rate loan will help to cushion your finances against a rise in rates and this can be really useful, especially if you are new to the market or are working to a tight budget.
Likewise if you pay for your gas and electricity on a standard package then you might want to see if there are fixed options for you that might save you some money.
If you do a lot of your spending using plastic, and don’t pay the balance off in full every month, then make sure that the card you have is competitive or, better still, move to a card that has a zero percent option. Average interest rates on credit cards are much higher than they should be given the Bank of England Base Rate at the moment so make sure you’re not paying over the odds for the card you use.
Store Cards can be very expensive as well so only ever use them if you’re doing it to get a good deal from a retailer and have the funds to repay your balance in full before you have to pay any interest.
And of course it goes without saying that you should be avoiding Payday Lenders.