Make a res­o­lu­tion about your fi­nances

Stockport Express - - Travel -

THE New Year is a good time to think about your fi­nances, and es­pe­cially see­ing if you can save some money!

Here are some things that might be worth think­ing about: The ‘loy­alty penalty’ Our lat­est na­tional re­search shows that the pub­lic is pay­ing £11m each day more than we need to be­cause of the ‘loy­alty penalty’ – where com­pa­nies charge old cus­tomers more than new cus­tomers.

This more than £4bn rip-off is go­ing to be in­ves­ti­gated by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­ket Au­thor­ity this year as a re­sult of our re­cent ‘su­per com­plaint.’

Save money by mak­ing sure that you don’t fall foul of this prac­tice. Make sure you pay at­ten­tion to how much any ‘re­newal’ costs might be. Things to take ex­tra at­ten­tion of in­clude the re­newal of in­sur­ance poli­cies – es­pe­cially car in­sur­ance.

So this year make sure to check how much your var­i­ous re­newals cost, and shop around be­fore agree­ing to ac­cept quotes.

When you have found bet­ter deals – it’s still worth speak­ing to the orig­i­nal provider to see if they are able to meet the bet­ter quote you have found.

Chang­ing your fuel sup­plier

With the win­ter com­ing to its cold­est, it’s a good time to think about your en­ergy costs and your en­ergy sup­plier.

First start by check­ing with the coun­cil to see if your house­hold might qual­ify for any in­su­la­tion or en­ergy ef­fi­ciency grants to help re­duce the costs, and then check whether your cur­rent sup­plier could be beaten.

A good place to see what’s avail­able will be the per­sonal fi­nance pages in the week­end news­pa­pers.

The Cit­i­zens Ad­vice ser­vice puts a reg­u­lar ta­ble of client sat­is­fac­tion for the var­i­ous en­ergy com­pa­nies – it’s a good idea to check with this as well be­fore de­cid­ing to change.

When you do change, make sure you take me­ter read­ings – and per­haps take a photo with your phone. You don’t want to be pay­ing more than nec­es­sary to the more ex­pen­sive older sup­plier if they over­es­ti­mate how much en­ergy you used be­fore chang­ing. Phone con­tracts These are also one of our great­est con­cerns for poor value. Last year we pro­duced a re­port that looked at how many peo­ple stay on poor value phone con­tracts years af­ter they have ‘paid’ for their phones. Be sure to look into chang­ing your phone con­tract reg­u­larly and you could quickly save money. Mort­gages Most peo­ple think that in­ter­est rates are head­ing up­wards – and there could well be a no­tice­able ad­just­ment af­ter ‘Brexit Day.’ Now might be a good time to look at find­ing a new mort­gage provider, and if you are not plan­ning a house move, you could fix your in­ter­est rate over the next few years.

Be care­ful about fees for chang­ing your mort­gage - and fac­tor this into any sav­ings you are likely to make by chang­ing.

You could also look to use any monthly sav­ing to over­pay you mort­gage, mean­ing that over the whole life of the mort­gage you pay less in­ter­est, but you need to check what lim­its on over­pay­ing might be at­tached.

Pen­sion auto-en­rol­ment

The new tax year will see many peo­ple be­ing made to pay more onto their pen­sions un­der the gov­ern­ment’s sys­tem of auto en­rol­ment.

In the longer term, pay­ing into a pen­sion is a tax ef­fi­cient way to save – with the gov­ern­ment pay­ing back tax on your con­tri­bu­tions (within cer­tain lim­its). The ear­lier you start sav­ing a pen­sion, the larger your pen­sion is likely to be.

Re­duce the cost of any bor­row­ing

We all need to bor­row from time to time, but are not al­ways good at check­ing whether we are bor­row­ing at the best cost.

Keep an eye on the APR, so that you can com­pare that cost more straight­for­wardly with other sources of credit.

If you are strug­gling to find credit at low cost, then per­haps speak to your lo­cal credit union. You can find out more from www. find­y­our­cred­i­tu­nion. co.uk.

If you need help man­ag­ing your fi­nances, then your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice can help.

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