Be your own chancellor with Moneywise's 2012 Budget

29 March 2012

So instead of focusing on what Chancellor George Osborne has and hasn't decided to do with the UK finances, now is the time to look at our own budgets. To help you on your way, here's the Moneywise 2012 Budget that will create no losers:

1. Be smart when paying debts

Step one is to pay off your debts in a clever way. Ok, so paying off those credit card bills is never much fun, but there are some simple rules that will help minimise the pain.

Firstly, don't try to squirrel money away if you've still got loans and cards to pay off. While it feels great seeing your savings grow, the interest earned on your cash will never be as much as the interest you will have to pay on a loan.

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Secondly, always meet the repayments on essential debt first (such as your mortgage), and then try to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate. If you have credit card debt with a high APR, see if you could switch to a 0% balance transfer card. For example, Barclaycard currently offers 0% for 22 months. There is a balance transfer fee of 2.9%, but this could be far less than the high APR you're currently paying on a monthly basis.

2. Don't pay more than you have to

Step two is to make sure you don't pay more than you have to for your essentials. This includes shopping around for everything from gas and electricity deals to car insurance premiums.

While loyalty is a great trait in a friend, unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to being a customer of the financial services industry – so if your current provider can't or won't offer you a good deal, vote with your feet and take your custom elsewhere.
Once you've accumulated some wealth, the third step is to make sure you get the most out of your money.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind here. If you're putting your money into a deposit account, make sure you have a look around for competitive rates on a regular basis - most accounts tend to offer good rates for about a year and then they plummet, which means it's time to switch.

If you're investing, watch out for charges; some fund managers charge an extortionate amount despite not delivering great returns. Also avoid investing with your bank. Not only are the banks criticised for flogging poor-value investments, but using a bank could also leave you in the hands of a rather dubious 'adviser' who is on a mission to earn commission.

3. Be tax-efficient

Lastly, always make sure you save or invest in the most tax-efficient way possible - a report by show that savers and investors could lose out on more than £400 million over the next tax year by not using their ISA allowances – don't be one of them.

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