OK, so I know it’s the thing none of us like to think about, but we all know that if you want more disposable income in 2010 (and beyond), you’ve got to face up to your finances. So to help you (and me!) sort money out I asked the experts for their Top 3 Tips:
*Give yourself a financial health check. ‘The most important financial test of all is a simple one,’ says TV’s Martin Lewis. ‘Do you spend more than you earn? If so, you’ve got a serious problem. It means either you’ll eat up all your spending or rapidly build up debt. If not, then you can relax a touch, and know that you’re financially stable. To find this out requires a REAL budget – by that I don’t mean willy-nilly looking at a month’s expenditure that misses out things like Christmas, summer holidays or buying a sofa. I mean looking at your finances across a year. To help, I've designed a free tool that'll do the health check for you here.'
*Make sure you are getting all the money you are entitled to. ‘A large percentage of benefits go unclaimed by those who most need them, simply because people don’t know they are there,’ says Sam Thewlis from mumsclub. ‘It doesn’t help that the Government keep changing the names of benefits so you don’t know what to claim even if you wanted to. Check out really helpful sites like entitledto.'
*Pay off your debts. ‘Tackle those debts head on before you do anything else,’ says LivingwithKids money saving expert Alison Hunt. 'Try and move expensive credit card balances to a 0% card such as Virgin Money card (offering 0% for 16 months subject to a 2.98% fee) and give yourself some breathing space to clear that debt.’ For more tips and advice, visit lovemoney.com.
And don’t forget if you shop through KidStart you get money back for your kids which you can save towards their future.
*What are your top money-saving tips?
written by Liz Jarvis