Spring is traditionally the time to arm yourself with a duster and clean the house. But it's also a great time to take a read over our trusty guide and clean up your finances before the summer holidays come around.
Get a true view
Take a good look at your finances to find the most efficient places to reign in spending - or step up saving. And rather than rummaging through months of bills and statements, use our free money management software to gather your accounts in one place. Once you connect your Money Dashboard to your accounts, our secure, read-only software will gather, tag and display your spending and saving habits to give you a true view of your finances with minimum fuss. Think of it as a financial Roomba, gathering the dirt so you don't have to.
Tidy your bills
It's tempting to leave bill payments on autopilot, but allowing direct debits to dictate how you pay off bills, loans, credit cards and mortgages could be costing you. Start by ensuring that all 'priority' debts are paid. These are bills that need paying to avoid a court summons or losing your home, and they include:
- Loans secured against your home
- Utility bills
- Council tax
- Court fines
Next, move onto other debts, prioritising repayments by interest amount. Make sure to hit the minimum payments on credit cards, and minimise outstanding amounts as far as you can on any high-interest accounts.
Scrub your savings
Savings account and ISA interest rates remain low, so if you're paying a lot of interest on your mortgage, loans or credit card bills, use any savings you have to cover those costs. It will save you more in the long run.
If you've still got savings to invest, compare all of the savings and ISA accounts on offer to find the best deal. Remember, sometimes it pays to switch your bank.
More adventurous investors might want to consider how to invest their savings themselves, or research peer-to-peer lending.
Buff your bonuses
Make the most of your loyalty or cashback bonuses. Ask yourself whether you can transfer some bill payments to a credit card to reclaim some cash, if more of your shop can be done with a particular retailer to boost your bonus points, or whether you can save on bills by setting up (or cancelling) direct debits. It all adds up.
Shave your service providers
If you've gone a whole winter with your gas or electricity supplier, you'll have amassed a lot of useful data that can help you assess whether they're really offering you good value for money. Use a comparison site to see what's available, and use all the details you've gathered to make sure that the promised cuts really will be delivered to you.
Once you've sorted gas and electricity, consider doing the same for your mobile, broadband and TV packages. New deals come on the market all the time, so it pays to check regularly
Fine tune your shopping habits
Build a list of voucher sites and online stores like Quidco, which pay you to shop. Then work out which products from your weekly shop you can cut, downgrade to own-brand or buy in bulk and freeze. These kind of habit changes make the difference in the long run.
Posted by Marc Murphy, Marketing Manager at Money Dashboard.