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Manage your money in 2010 

16 tips to help you manage your money

There has been a rumour going around for about the last three decades that the British people have a deep fascination for all things financial.

It’s not true. When it comes to sorting out our financial affairs, most of us look forward to it about as much as we look forward to staring up at the dentist.

But these things have to be faced up to, so our first piece of advice is: get it sorted. If you are thinking that you should be managing your money better in 2010 than you did in 2009, there really is no point in putting it off until 2011, especially as the recession is still with us and needs special consideration. Here's how...

1 Get some advice

Getting financial advice can be daunting, so make it easier by breaking the problem in two.
You need two types of advice:
strategic - looking at the whole picture and how it might change - and tactical, which is considering specific options and deciding on the best deal.
A financial adviser will help with the strategic advice, but the tactical bits should be tackled with the help of the financial adviser and any other expert you decide to call in. These may be people with a vested interest in your affairs, such as your bank or building society manager, who therefore provide some free guidance. Or somebody with no vested interest, such as an accountant, who will charge you a fee.
Brokers, who typically help with managing mortgages and insurance - provide free help because they take commission from the services they sell. 

2 Get a financial adviser

Choosing the right financial adviser is clearly crucial to long-term strategic strategy, but getting a good one should be easy. As with any service, look for a long-established and experienced firm that you can trust.
The website run by the Personal Finance Society – the professional body for financial advisers - is useful for not only finding and choosing the right one, but also because it explains what you should expect from your financial adviser. The Financial Services Authority also has a useful broad section about obtaining financial advice, on its website.
Primary Financial Planning Swindon
Primary Financial Planning Ltd
Swindon mortgage, pension and investment specialists
> Financial Advisers in Swindon

3 If there are complications, get an accountant

Accountants are paid to sort out all options and sift through all the forms you can’t be bothered with, while making sure the taxman is happy with it all. So whenever your financial affairs get tricky with tax or legal complications, call in the experts. They either work   individually or as part of a practice, such as Monahans in Swindon (who, incidentally have a raft of excellent free ‘helpsheets’ on their website). Experience and reputation are important when choosing an accountant because the taxman is much less likely to want to delve deeply into the affairs of people or businesses – which can be time-consuming – if they use a highly reputable accountant.
Monahans Accountants Swindon
Chartered Accountants and Independent Financial Advisers
> Accountants in Swindon

4 Join a credit union

If the recession has left you disillusioned by modern financial dealings and institutions, then do what previous generations did and join a credit union. Better still, join Swindon Credit Unions (there are two local schemes). Designed to promote thrift and provide loans at reasonable rates in a spirit of co-operation, credit unions are especially good for obtaining low value loans. They help you manage your money by encouraging regular saving, and do not discriminate against people with poor credit ratings. They even offer free insurance, so, in the event of your death, family members are not liable for loans. 
> Credit Unions in Swindon

5 Don’t believe everything you read

The biggest problem with financial advice is there’s too much of it. On the telly, on the radio, in books, in papers, on the web… it’s difficult to know what’s good advice and what’s not. Always be aware that the advice may be invalid if your circumstances are different from the example given or it may now be out of date because conditions and regulations can change rapidly. The advice may also depend on other circumstances, such as geography. And always bear in mind that not all advice that is available is impartial. However, some sources of advice are obviously trustworthy, so…

6 Check out impartial and official websites

As well as regulating financial matters, the Financial Services Authority is also good for advice on a very wide range of financial questions, thanks to its Money Made Clear website, which includes step-by-step guides, tools and calculators, plus a handy jargon buster. Another excellent source of impartial advice is The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which has a branch in Faringdon Road, Swindon.

7 Get help to sort out your debt

There are a number of people who can help organise your finances and deal with your debt in the most efficient way. We believe two organisations in Swindon offer the best individual solutions to help you get out of debt and back in to a stable financial position - with all the advice to help you on your way, they're definitely worth a call.
Christians Against Poverty UK in Swindon
Christians Against Poverty UK (CAP) is a national debt counselling charity with over 120 centres in towns and cities around the UK and has recently opened a centre in Swindon. A local debt coach and support worker will visit a client in response to them calling the central freephone number. A realistic budget is then worked out by the central office who also negotiate with creditors on behalf of the client to get repayments reduced and interest and charges dropped. The service is free of charge and we will continue to support the client until they become debt free.
Freephone: 0800 328 0006
Citizens Advice Bureau Swindon
The Citizens Advice Bureau has lots of sensible online advice, but is particularly good at finding ways out of financial problems. For instance, the website includes a useful action plan for trying to get out of debt during the recession.
> Citizen's Advice Bureau Swindon

8 Consider all the mortgage options

Most people are familiar with obtaining a mortgage direct from the lender – usually a bank or building society – but you shouldn’t feel obliged to be loyal, and the mortgage doesn’t have to be with an organisation you already have an account with. You are free to shop around, and to help you, you could…

9 Get a mortgage broker

It’s probably a good idea to get a local broker so you can pop in and see them as well as correspond on the phone and by email, such as Mortgage Force, who are in Commercial Road, Swindon. The Financial Services Authority provides good advice on getting help from a mortgage broker, including the services offered and a section on costs.
Mortgage Force Swindon
Mortgage Force Swindon
Impartial and professional mortgage advice

10 Shop around for insurance

The insurance market is extremely competitive these days – you only have to wait for one TV advert break to see just how competitive – so it’s wise to take a step back from the hype to make sure you get the best deal. The Financial Services Authority provides a useful easy-to-understand guide to buying insurance.

11 Go back to basics on pensions

If you don’t really understand much about pensions, don’t worry – neither do most people. So don’t be embarrassed if you need to go right back to square one before you make progress. The Financial Services Authority provides a sober and useful overview of pensions on its advice website, and it is a good starting point because it deals with basics. The Pensions Advisory Service also offers free independent information and guidance on pensions, and their website is kept bang up-to-date. But it’s all only a grounding, so…
> Pension Services in Swindon

12 Get expert help on pensions

Pensions are supposed to provide you with peace of mind and confidence in the future, so appointing a financial adviser (see above) could prove priceless in the long run. A pension is a high cost, potentially high risk and complex long-term consideration that requires careful strategic planning, especially as they are often tied up with tax incentives and issues which require even closer scrutiny.
Grosvenor Consultancy Swindon
Grosvenor Consultancy Ltd
Independent financial advisors in Swindon...

13 Think of savings as investments

Just as important as how you spend your money is how you save. Always think of saving as a kind of investment. That’s essentially what saving is – deciding which financial institution (usually a bank or building society) offers the best return on your money within the constraints you set on the saving method, such as how easily you might want to retrieve your money at short notice. Once again, the Financial Services Authority has some excellent advice on its website, including Savings Made Clear which includes a jargon buster and a back-to-basics section called New To Savings.

14 Save money on motoring

Driving is a costly business, so you should always be looking for ways to save money with your car. Check out our 50 Ways to Save Money on Motoring to find out how.

15 Save money on heating

As it's one of your biggest bills, heating provides one of the biggest opportunities for saving money at home. There are lots of ways, and as if to underline the size of the potential savings (to you, the economy and the environment), the government has come up with some useful tips and advice on its info website, Directgov.
Stay Warm this winter in Swindon
Stay Warm This Winter
So what's the best way to heat your Swindon home - and the cheapest?

16 Make the money in your pocket go further

As well as getting a good deal on long-term financial considerations such as mortgages and pensions, and medium-term questions such as insurance, there is also plenty of good advice around on everyday savings. The Financial Services Authority has an excellent section on 'everyday money' on its website, and for up-to-the-minute advice on getting savings in a wide range of areas, including the latest offers and discount, Martin Lewis’s Moneysaving Expert is always worth a visit - or register for a regular update by email. Also take a look at 50 Ways to Save Money, on the thisismoney website. And for a quirky look at cutting costs, see How to Buy Nothing.
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