Get your money into shape in 2012 with the Money Advice Service
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:11
At the start of the year we often resolve to get fitter and shed some pounds after all the festive fare - but what about the pounds in your pocket? The Money Advice Service gives free, unbiased advice that can help you get your money into shape for 2012.
Start the year as you mean to go on. You can't start getting your money into shape without getting a clear picture of what your current situation is. Spend less than ten minutes doing our free online health check which will then immediately give you your own personal action plan to show you where your priorities are. Click here to do the health check now.
Give your money a workout
Once the health check has helped you identify your priorities, the next step will be to review what money is coming in and going out. Our budget planner will help. Dig out your bank and credit card statements, savings and loans information, and your payslips. Check your direct debits to make sure you're not paying for things you don't need - like a gym membership or magazine subscription you don't use any more. Be choosey though - if you're thinking about cancelling insurance to save money, how would you cope if things were to go wrong?
If one of your priorities is to start saving, it often makes sense to pay off loans or credit cards first. Shop around for the lowest Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and other charges.
Keep your money on track
Once you're on top of things, try to stay in control of your money:
- review your budget regularly. If you find you're running out of money before you get paid, our Money Stretcher calculator can help.
- note down when annual payments are due - such as car tax and insurance - as you'll be better prepared for unexpected costs. Be sure to shop around in good time before renewal to get the best deal on things like car or home insurance.
- set up direct debits for bills and credit cards. This will help you avoid late-payment charges - as long as there's enough in your account to cover them.
- get into the habit of checking your bank and credit card statements to avoid any shocks.
- shop around - savings, credit cards, energy suppliers, find tips in our online Shopping around guide.
Don't struggle in silence
If you're struggling don't ignore it, or be shy about finding help to discuss how you'll manage. Talk with your partner, family or friends and seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Our Money Advisers and our online Dealing with debt guide can point you to helpful debt advice organisations.
These tips are brought to you by the Money Advice Service.
0300 500 5000 *
* Calls should cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes. To help us maintain and improve our service we may record or monitor calls.