2012’s TWELVE TOP MONEY TIPS
By the Ombudsman
Monday, December 26, 2012. (Kwanzaa 2012)
With 2012 just around the corner and money-matters at the front of many people’s minds, we thought we will give you some new year tips for consumers from the financial ombudsman.
The Financial Ombudsman Service is the free service, set up by law in the United Kingdom with the power to sort our complaints between consumers and financial businesses. The office handled over one million enquiries last year - and they are committed to reaching people who might not be aware of their rights if they have a money problem they can't sort out.
1. Check your bank and credit card statements to make sure that the payments shown are ones that you recognise – this is particularly important at this time of year when statements can be longer.
2. Ask your bank for a list of your direct debits and standing orders. If you’re paying for things you don’t recognise or use, consider cancelling them – but tell the business involved first.
3. Interest rates may be low, but there are still some good deals out there. Compare offers on accounts and you may find a better rate for your savings.
4. If you use cheques or make card payments, keep a record of what you’ve paid out as the money might not be debited from your account straight away.
5. If you have to make an unexpected payment and think that you’re going to go overdrawn, talk to your bank as soon as possible. Tell them about the situation – they may be able to help.
6. Interest rates on credit cards can change, so it's worth reviewing your current rate - you may find that there is a better offer available. These can range from short-term zero interest deals to fixed interest rates for the life of the balance.
7. Unsure what to do with unwanted presents? Rather than letting them gather dust, take them back to the shop. If you don’t have a receipt, you may find you’re able to sell the gift online.
8. From online shopping to banking, remembering multiple passwords can be tricky. Try to avoid sticking to the same password for everything – or have separate ones for banking, hobbies and purchases.
9. There are lots of free discount vouchers for shops, restaurants and entertainment available online. Check to see if there are any limitations with the business making the offer before you shop.
10. From bank accounts to insurance policies, you can find a lot of information about the best rates available online and in the media. Find a deal that works for you – but remember cheaper isn’t always better!
11. As the weather grows colder, don’t leave the keys in your car or leave it unattended while you’re warming up your engine - you could find you’re not covered by your motor insurance policy if it gets stolen.
12. Shopping in the sales? Be careful when using store cards as some can carry a high rate of interest. And if you've been given a gift card, don't leave it too long before spending it, most have expiry dates on the card (or receipt).
If you do have a problem a bank or insurance company, the business will usually be able to sort things out. But if you’ve made a complaint and are still unhappy, the ombudsman service may be able to help.
To find out more, visit: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk or phone 0300 123 9 123