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Diet to gain pounds

Make one beneficial New Year's resolution - overhaul your personal finances.

Wednesday, 09 January 2013
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  • Business

January can be a financially stressful month but the Consumer Council is here to help. It's time to stop and take stock of your finances with the launch of our month long campaign 'New Year Diet that will gain you pounds'.

Our research has found that half of the population is worried about making ends meet with one in five stating that keeping up with finances was a constant struggle. This struggle can be more apparent in January, especially if we have overstretched our finances at Christmas but with our information and advice at hand, you can start to take back control of your finances.

Top tips to get a handle on your income and outgoings this year.

1. Don't get caught out buying what you don't need.
Every week the average adult spends £33 and can't remember what they spent it on. The Consumer Council has produced a 'Spending Diary' to allow you to keep track of spending. Each day write down what you need to buy and then what you actually buy. It will help you see where you are overspending and where you can cut back. Contact us on 0800 121 6022 for your free 'Spending Diary'.

2. Consider switching your current account to another bank.
If you've been paying hefty charges for overdrafts you could save a large amount by switching to a 'charge-free' account. Not all banks charge the same rate. You don't need to tell your bank that you're switching, simply choose the company you want to move to and they'll take care of the switching process including switching your direct debits and standing orders.

3. If you have borrowed money or want to take out a loan, check out the interest rate.
Always check the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Generally, the lower the APR, the better it is for your pocket. You can switch your loan or credit card balance to another loan or credit card provider. Ask other providers about their interest rates and monthly repayments for a loan your size. Check the costs involved, terms and conditions and make sure you can afford the repayments. Other providers include banks, building societies or credit unions in your area.

4. Always shop around for the cheapest insurance cover
When your renewal letter arrives, always challenge the renewal price provided by your current insurance company. Check comparison websites and telephone a range of brokers and insurance companies to make sure you're getting the best protection possible for the cheapest price. Don't be afraid to haggle.

If you don't ask, you might not get!