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Get the best savings rates available

 

It’s not exciting and certainly in the current low interest rate environment you may be forgiven for feeling that it’s just not worth the effort. With interest rates typically at around 0.50% or even less, the returns are only going to be modest at best. However searching on websites such as moneysupermarket.com and moneysavingsexpert.com, you can get better rates for both cash ISA account and ordinary savers accounts. Interestingly some savings accounts are paying higher rates of interest than cash ISA’s so if you are either a non tax payer or a basic rate tax payer, you may be better off using these accounts instead.

There’s an energy price war going on

Most households could save quite a bit of money off their bills just by switching energy supplier thanks to a new price war. The new deals means there is now a big difference between the cheapest energy tariff on the market and the average annual energy bill. The difference could be anything up to £900 a year. Competition has been heating up among the smaller suppliers in recent months, as the newer entrants to the market battle to take the top spots in the best buy tables.

Make your home more energy efficient

There are number of deals on offer at the moment to help households become more energy efficient, including the Green Deal loan scheme can help you pay for improvements on your home without having to pay all the costs in advance. You pay it off with the savings you make on your bills after the energy saving items have been installed. The loan is attached to the property and not to you individually.

Under the Energy Company Obligation larger energy companies pay all or part of the cost of making efficiency improvements in your home. You do not have to be a current customer of the energy company.

Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service to see if your property is eligible. Beware of scammers though as some people have been caught out. If you think you may have been caught out, contact your local Trading Standards and they can investigate further.

Take charge of your pension

Achieving financial freedom by the time you retire, does not usually happen with by accident. Only through careful planning and knowing whether your pension is on track will ensure that you reach your goals.

A regular review of how your pension investments are performing is essential to stay on track and will make sure that your make any necessary adjustments sooner rather than later. Many people leave it too late to make a difference, so getting a review of your pensions is essential if you want a comfortable retirement. Ask yourself how much income you would need if you were 65 today and retiring. You can then assess whether your pension is on track and if not, you can start to take action to make sure your retirement lifestyle is as you would like.

Review your investments

Check your non pension investments out as well. If you have ISA and/or share portfolios, do you know how they are performing? You bought them in the first place to make money, but as we all know investments change over time and they often start to underperform. No investment is likely to be a consistent performer over the long term, so check out how they are performing compared to similar investments.

If they are not performing, ask yourself “could my money be working better for me somewhere else?” If it’s not performing another investment could well give you a better chance to improve your returns. Revisit what those investments were made for as well. Does the original reason for investing still hold true or have there been any changes since you invested originally.

Sometime we make the mistake of holding onto an investment when it falls in value as we don’t want to accept a loss. However we can sometime hold onto investment for years that are carrying a loss, but this can mean that we are missing out on the profits elsewhere. Accepting that we made the wrong choice in the first place is sometimes hard, but letting go of an investment is a skill worth having. Not always easy I know.

Review your mortgage costs

Check that your mortgage is still competitive as the best new deals on the market today may be able to save you some money. You may be able to save hundreds – if not thousands of pounds by getting a better deal. If you are on a fixed rate it may be difficult to move to a better deal, however it is still worth checking out, if it is worth breaking out of your current deal. If you are on the Standard Variable Rate, checking your mortgage at least once a year will help you keep your costs down.

Three reasons to review your mortgage are –

  • If there is a change in the base rate
  • Your current deal comes to an end
  • Make it a yearly review

Make it your job not to pay any more than you have to.

Check your credit score

Checking that your credit file does not have any damaging information is important if you want to take out a mortgage, take out a credit card or a loan.

 

There are three credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian and CallCredit, and they all hold information about you which lenders use. Even the slightest of errors can cause problems, so it’s important you check your file regularly. So what information should you be checking on your credit file?

  • Check addresses
  • Unfair defaults on your file
  • If you are divorced or separated from a partner, make sure you financially delink.
  • And always check your credit files after rejection

And remember, cancel any unused credit cards as these can count against your credit score.

Contact Martin Dodd on 01902 742221 or email him at martin.dodd@miadvice.co.uk if you would like talk about money issues.

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