Finance top tips – get yours in shape in 2012

Whilst you might be trying to lose a few pounds around the waistline after a festive feast or two, why not try and add a few pounds to your wallet.

Make a budget … stick to it!

Why not take advantage of your New Year momentum and whilst you’re saying no to that extra cream cake, you could also say no to those tempting sales. It can be easy enough to make a budget; the important part is sticking to it. One way of ensuring that you don’t go overboard is by making your budget realistic and easy to attain. –

Make a few simple changes to your daily or weekly shopping habits to see a difference:

For example, start taking lunch into work instead of buying an expensive meal every day. This could save you around £25 a week which is an extra £100 in your pocket by the end of the month!

Try cutting down on unnecessary car journeys, the money saved on petrol could soon mount up.

Suggest an evening in when you meet up with friends and family rather than what could be an expensive night out to a restaurant or bars.

Cancel an unused or expensive subscriptions; if you have a gym membership that you’ve not used in months or a weekly magazine you not bothering to read anymore, cancel your subscription at once!

0% interest balance transfer credit cards

Spread the excess Christmas credit over a 0% balance transfer credit card.  Barclaycard have recently introduced a 24 month 0% balance transfer period on their new platinum card. The APR is 17.9% thereafter.

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Get Remortgage advice

The ongoing saga of  ‘when will interest rates rise?’ is not much fun and is certainly growing tiresome for many, unless you are a homeowner.

Optimistic industry experts believe that we could see a rise as early as the end of the year, however, others don’t think we can expect to see an interest rate increase until at least 2015. Either way, this is good news for homeowners as interest rates on mortgage repayments seem set to continue to be low.

So, is now a good time to remortgage? It could well be worth seeking advice about the subject, particularly if you are enjoying a tracker mortgage at the moment. However, it should be noted that it’s up to the lender to set the variable rate regardless of the base rate.

If you have remortgaged be sure to check that you are not paying too much interest on repayments. If you are having any problems meeting your repayments it could be advisable to seek expert debt assistance.

Compare mortgage rates with Propertywide.

Switch your utility provider using your postcode

The price of gas and electricity has shot up over the past 12 months and whilst the leading six providers recently introduced a sharp hike, they could be set to do so again in a few months time. You could save around £300 per year by switching your provider.

Compare gas and electricity providers with Propertywide.

Shop around for cheap car insurance

When your car insurance is up for renewal don’t just go with your current insurer as a simple way to renew; shop around and you could save a small fortune!

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Start saving

Open an ISA and take advantage of some tax-free savings. ISAs are a great way of maintaining a lump sum of cash and earning a bit on top of it. According to the Telegraph, Brits are wasting a staggering £509 million every year by not making the most of tax free accounts.

Research by a leading price comparison website found that a basic-rate taxpayer using a Cash ISA would have saved a massive £14,504 if they had opened a Cash ISA when they were first launched 12 years ago, which is £3,354 more than someone who saved in a regular savings account.

It is also worth noting that you have only got a few months until the 5th April deadline to take advantage of this year’s (2011-2012) total limit of £10,680 into either Cash or Stocks and Shares ISA accounts. It’s worth noting that you can only hold up to £5,340 in a Cash ISA. You can only contribute to one Cash ISA and one Stocks and Shares ISA per tax year.

Compare ISAs with Propertywide.

Keep bargain hunting!

Just because everyone reaches a state of panic once the big red sale signs hit the streets on Boxing Day, this doesn’t mean that the bargain hunting has to end when they come down. Why not set yourself the challenge this year of never paying full price for items? Always keep your bargain hunting hat on, whether it’s during your weekly food shop or as part of bigger purchases such as a holiday.

It may also be worth keeping a look at what’s available online, many retailers will continue to shift their goods online to get them out of the stores. Check out sites like MightyDeals.co.uk for fun activities and luxury gifts which offer discounts all year round.

Switch Current Accounts

Many banks and lenders often try to entice new customers with flashy deals. However, during these dark times of austerity they can look more tempting than ever. Halifax has recently announced that it will give away £100 to those who switch their current account to them until 19th February. The most attractive part of the deal is that the cash is upfront and £100 will be given straight away to those switching over within the next month.

This is a growing trend amongst banks that recognise that there is a dire cash shortage for the majority of Brits. The Halifax move follows the Co-operative’s £200 give-away to new customers in a deal last October which has now ended. Santander also offered £300 in a bid to grab new customers.

Compare Current Accounts with Propertywide.

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