We know you're probably rushed off your feet already, with the holiday season scratching at the door. 2018's epic spring cleaning session's almost certainly the last thing you want to be stressing over now. However, while you're wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings this Christmas, give a little thought to clearing out those useless services sucking the festive spirit out of your bank account.

If you make one New Year's resolution in 2018, make it to slim down the payments that aren't paying off. It'll take less time than one session on that gimmicky piece of exercise equipment you bought last year that's gathering dust in the garage right now. What's more, it'll stop you shedding the wrong kind of pounds in the coming year.

We're talking about the millions of unused service packages pulling regular payments out of UK bank accounts every month. They seemed like good investments at the time, but over the years they've become just more background noise in your bank statements. Those payments stack up over time, and if you're not getting your money's worth out of them there's no reason to keep forking out.

We know you're probably rushed off your feet already, with the holiday season scratching at the door. 2018's epic spring cleaning session's almost certainly the last thing you want to be stressing over now. However, while you're wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings this Christmas, give a little thought to clearing out those useless services sucking the festive spirit out of your bank account. If you make one New Year's resolution in 2018, make it to slim down the payments that aren't paying off. It'll take less time than one session on that gimmicky piece of exercise equipment you bought last year that's gathering dust in the garage right now. What's more, it'll stop you shedding the wrong kind of pounds in the coming year.

We're talking about the millions of unused service packages pulling regular payments out of UK bank accounts every month. They seemed like good investments at the time, but over the years they've become just more background noise in your bank statements. Those payments stack up over time, and if you're not getting your money's worth out of them there's no reason to keep forking out.

Times are tough for a lot of people in the UK. In fact, over 1 in 20 of us are running our bank accounts completely dry each month. About 1 in 10 are skipping meals to make ends meet. Even so an incredible 6.5 million people in the UK have Direct Debits or standing orders going out of their accounts for services they aren't using.

Those subscriptions really do seem to make good financial sense when you take them out. Over time, though, you could be losing hundreds of pounds on services you don't remember even ordering.

Some think it's too complicated or too much hassle to get out of the agreements. Others are caught in some kind of technical trap they can't get free of. The truth is, it's usually nowhere near as hard to kill those subscriptions off than it seems. You just have to spend half an hour of your life looking into it.

Here's all it takes to grab the reins of your bank account and start steering it in the right direction.

See what's going out

  • Checking through your bank statements is obviously job one here.
  • Look for automatic payments and make a note of what they're for. Crucially, look for anything that seems odd or unexpected.
  • If it's not clear where the money's going, contact the bank to find out who you're paying.

Weigh it up

Once you've got a grip on who you're paying and what you're getting in return, you've got some decisions to make.

  • Are you getting enough use out of the services?
  • Are you even using them at all?
  • Are there “free trials” that suddenly became paid subscriptions?
  • If you're paying for an automatic delivery service, would it make more sense just to stock up yourself whenever you need to?

If there's a way in, there's a way out

Cancellation policies can be slippery, so you've got to stay on your toes here. Stopping payments without following the agreement you signed up to can have painful consequences.

Look for things like notice periods and early exit penalties on contracts. It might be tempting just to switch to a new bank account to kill off the payments all at once. That won't seem like such a great option when it brings debt collectors to your door, though.

Stick to your resolutions

Here's the tough part. Once you've got your financial house in order, you've got to stick to the resolution. That means continuing to check your statements, for one thing. Not all your old subscriptions might be monthly. It's easy to miss an automatic payment in the list if it only goes out a couple of times a year or less. You'll also spot unusual payments faster and be able to handle them more easily. You might even be able to claw a little cash back, if you cancel something you've been paying for in advance.

Get your tax refund as soon as you can

Claiming tax refunds, of course, is something that's very close to our hearts at RIFT.

While you're making a head-start on your financial spring cleaning, it's a good moment to gather what you need for your next tax rebate claim or need helping with filing your tax return.

A little preparation now is all it takes to keep your bank balance healthy through the financial flu season. Talk to RIFT to get the ball rolling.