Discover tips and tricks on how to save money.

The season of ghosts, ghouls, and spooky nights out is upon us. Traditionally a time of year for bonfires and trick or treating, it’s also a time for sending chills down the spine with some classic horror and supernatural intrigue.

If you are looking for a good scare this year then take a look at some of the scariest financial horror stories from the lives of some of the Oval Team and the lessons we learned from them.

1.     I opened a credit card for going travelling, then got totally side tracked forgot to pay it back.

~ Emily, Content Writer

Sad but true, I went to Australia for a year so decided to be sensible and open a credit card in case of emergencies. I spent the year using it and dutifully paying it back, but then my plans suddenly changed and instead of going home to the UK I went backpacking around Asia and totally forgot about the credit card. The bank sent letters to my home address but there was no one there to collect them, and by the time I got back to the UK I had so many late fees and sky high interest payments that I didn’t know what I was going to do. Not to mention what it did to my credit score.

Our advice?

Whilst it was sensible to take out a credit card for emergency use, it was not sensible to forget about it. Always ensure you keep track of your debts, be it credit cards, mortgages, or student loans. If you are having trouble staying on top of it all it may be worth collating your debt into one consolidation loan, which means you only need to keep track of one balance and one payment a month.

2. I learnt that to trust is good, but not to trust is better!

~ Marty, People Engagement Manager (Italy)

My “horror story” dates back to 2015. The year before, I had participated in the National Civil Service and I received the permitted compensation. I asked the association that coordinated my project whether this sum of money should be declared in the Individual Income Tax Return to be submitted the year after. They answered that, because they were not an employer and the money received was less than 8k, the declaration was not due. I was satisfied with this answer and I was happy I didn’t have to go through the bureaucratic process.

At that time I was still dependent on my parents…. and a year later they both received a fine because I didn’t declare my income during Civil Service! It wasn’t such a terrible blow, but it could easily have been avoided if I had just done a bit of research instead of relying on what the company told me!

Our advice?

When it comes to money, always do your research! Although Marty did the right thing by asking the company, we'd recommend always double or even triple checking an answer for yourself. Always remember that Ignorantia juris non excusat. Not being aware of the law doesn't excuse you from it.

Furthermore, even it feels overwhelming, once you receive any type of financial notice or penalty, make sure that you tackle it head on and straight away, as ignoring it can lead to bigger problems further down the road.

3. I went out on my thirtieth birthday and rinsed my savings account that I'd been contributing to for a Caribbean holiday

~ James, Software Developer

I wish this wasn't true, but it is. I have a habit of getting carried away when I'm having a good time with my friends and my savings were far too easy to access. I had a great night but it meant that the Caribbean holiday I had been looking forward to so much never happened. I'll always regret it!

Our advice?

Mistakes like this are easy to make, so always ensure that whatever savings you have you put them in an account that is difficult to reach. Being able to 'withdraw at will' can often prove to be too much of a challenge for your willpower.

If this sounds like something you can relate to, and you know you will be out on the town having a ghoulishly good time this Halloween, then set up a savings step that sets aside a percentage of what you spend on ‘food and drinks’ (or trick or treating!) and put that towards your savings. Saving a percentage of what you spend makes you more mindful of your money.

Have a happy Halloween and make sure you don't become another personal finance horror story!

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