Christmas presents all ready and wrapped? Festive groceries going on credit card? Worried about the January household bills?

Money worries in the run up to Christmas, together with January financial stress are predictably common. But this year many more of us will be worrying about money.

There were 819,000 fewer workers on UK company payrolls in November than at the start of the pandemic, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. Hospitality was the worst hit sector, accounting for a third of the job losses, followed by retail.

You or someone in your household may have been made redundant, had working hours cut or fallen ill. The sense of optimism that the nation felt from the news of an effective vaccine remains, but the next few months are likely to stay financially challenging for all even if your finances haven’t been directly affected to date.

Here’s our financial health improvement guide:

Review your budget

No matter how big or small your budget is, not overspending is a vitally important habit to get into. It’s all about knowing your limits and using your money wisely. Check out online tools for managing spending. The Money Advice Service is a great starting point.

Don’t budge on bills

Energy bills are rising due to the time of year and the fact that we are spending more time at home. Get in touch with energy and water suppliers, banks and mortgage providers as they continue to offer measures such as payment breaks and holidays to help struggling customers.

Be wise to borrowing

It can be extremely tempting to borrow money to pay for Christmas costs, but consider whether you can afford to pay it back.  If you do decide to take out credit, check the terms and conditions and always refer to your household budget to cross-check repayment affordability.

Shop around

See if you can cut the cost of your bills. The government-backed Simple Energy Advice website includes tips. Or switch suppliers, especially if contracts are coming to an end. Find out more from the energy regulator Ofgem’s website. Citizens Advice has an energy comparison service to help you find cheaper suppliers.

Become benefit savvy

Keep on top of what help the government is offering along with available state benefits and support for childcare, housing or council tax costs. The national charity Turn2Us has details plus a benefits calculator.

Get help

Help is available. The earlier it is sought, the sooner you can worry less. Organisations such as National DebtlineCitizens Advice and StepChange offer free independent advice from debt experts.

Offer help

As an employer, put things in place to help your teams. Signpost to debt support, provide advice through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or give fast access to professional counselling services, should emotional support be required as a result of financial problems.

If you need money management advice and support, call us today on 0121 454 3601 or email: [email protected].