Following the pinch of Christmas, January’s bank balance can confront us with a bit of a shock. It might be time to make some important financial decisions, so CAP has composed a questionnaire that will give you an idea of where you’re at:
1. Are you aware of where your money goes each month? (E.g. Direct Debits, bills, credit card or overdraft payments.)
a) I am always aware of all my outgoings.
b) I am aware of most of my outgoings.
c) I don’t always know where a lot of my money has gone each month.
d) I pay very little attention to where my money goes each month.
2. How much is in your current account?
b) I’m not sure but I know I’m in the black.
c) I think I’m a little way into my overdraft.
d) I have absolutely no idea.
3. Where does most of your excess money go?
a) Into a savings and investment.
b) I save some, but spend most of it on holidays and activities.
c) I buy a lot of clothes/books and somehow seem to save very little between paydays.
d) I splurge on treats and things I don’t need, and regularly overspend.
4. Do you live by a budget?
a) Yes, very strictly; and if I need to spend over my budget I account for it and make sure I spend less next month.
b) I have a rough budget and try to live by it, but sometimes I overspend.
c) I made a budget a few years ago but it’s probably out of date now.
5. Do you generally pay for things with cash or card?
a) I always use cash, and if I pay with card I write details on the receipt and keep it for my records.
b) I generally use cash because it’s easier to keep track of how much I’ve spent.
c) I usually pay with card but very rarely pay for things on credit.
d) I use whatever plastic is to hand.
6. What happens when you buy presents for friends and family?
a) I decide how much to spend and never go over.
b) I agree a mutual budget with the other person but if I go a little over it’s okay.
c) I tend to buy what I know the person will like, even if it’s a bit too expensive.
d) I often forget what I’ve bought for them and keep buying more and more things.
7. How often do you reassess what your money goes on?
a) Once or twice a month.
b) Three or four times a year.
c) Maybe once a year.
d) I’ve never assessed my finances in my life.
8. Do you manage to keep on top of your debts?
a) What debts?
b) Yes, they rarely cause a problem.
c) I just about keep up, but I sometimes miss payments.
d) I’m always behind on repayments and interest builds up quickly.
If you scored mostly As, congratulations on your excellent money management – feel free to treat yourself once in a while… At the other end of the spectrum, if you scored all Ds, you might be in need of professional debt help before things get seriously out of control. If you’re somewhere in the middle, scoring mostly Bs or Cs, it might be worth having a financial check up, just to make sure you’re in tip top shape. Why not try a CAP Money Course - it’s free and has already helped over 12,000 people last year to fine tune their finances.