We have created a very simple and easy to use Home Budget Planner for you to download and fill in.
This will help you identify and keep track of your income and spending and the very act of filling it out will help you become more aware of what is coming in and going out regularly.
We all know how difficult it is to keep on top of home finances so we have made it super simple for you.
You can download the Home Budget Planner in Excel Spreadsheet format for easy viewing on your PC:
5 Things to Remember When Looking for a New Bank Account
It has become much easier to open a new bank account or switch to a different provider. The good news is that there is plenty of choice out there if you want to get a better deal. Some banks now offer a cash incentive if you either open an account or switch from your current bank.
Before you decide to switch, though, there are a few things that you need to consider.
1. Pick the Right Account Type
There are different account types to choose from. If you simply want a place to put your wages, give you a small overdraft and deal with direct debits, a current account is generally all you need. There are now what are called packaged accounts available which come with added benefits but which you must pay a monthly subscription fee for. There are other accounts geared towards students and ones that are fee free or ideal for those on low incomes who need to budget or want to manage their money more effectively.
It pays to research all the different types of account available and find one that suits your needs and current requirements.
2. Don’t Forget to Compare Rates
Banks will have different charges for services such as overdrafts. There are also penalties if you do something like bounce a check or don’t have enough money for a direct debit. All banks should display these rates on their site, so you can see what you are likely to be charged.
If you are likely to go overdrawn each month then look for a bank that has low interest rates/charges in this area. If you are more likely to stay in the black, there are banks that pay interest if you maintain a certain balance which can put extra money in your pocket.
3. Do You Need a Local Branch?
Some people like to be able to walk into their local branch and see someone in person. Others are happy to deal on the phone or even online nowadays. If you live in a large town or city, the chances are you’ll be able to find a branch nearby if you need it.
If you are in a small village, out of the way, you may have your choice limited if you want the personal touch. Banking online is generally a lot more secure nowadays and allows you to keep up to date with your account at the touch of a button.
4. How is their Customer Service?
One of the big bug bears for many people is customer service, whatever the industry. This is particularly important with services like banking. It’s worth checking online for complaints about a bank you are thinking of choosing. If you start seeing complaints about poor customer service, then you may want to consider alternatives.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around
Older people especially tend to lend banks a kudos that they often don’t deserve. Younger people are more likely to shop around and get the deal they want. This is a service like anything else and you want to get the best value for your time and money. Certainly, don’t be afraid to try out different banks – make out a list of what you are looking for and then rate each bank per your requirements.
There is plenty of choice out there compared to a few decades ago and opening a new bank account is easy. If you are swapping from one company to another, they will normally sort out important things like transferring over direct debits so that you don’t miss a payment and making sure your old account is closed properly.
As with most services nowadays, it pays to shop around once in while and switch if you want a better deal.
It might seem a complicated thing to do but switching bank accounts is actually quite simple. Since new legislation was brought in a few years ago, banks have come on board to make account transfers happen quickly and efficiently. Once you opt to switch, you can now expect it to be done within 7 days and, what’s more, you don’t have to worry about swapping over things like direct debits.
Decide Who You Want to Switch To
The good news is that banks are now competing for your business. That means there are some great offers out there, including financial incentives, to get you to swap. Ideally, you should be looking at what you need and checking that against what’s on offer. It is quite difficult to do a like for like comparison with many accounts but as long as you match it with your needs you should be able to make a more informed decision. For instance, if you spend a lot of time in the red you might want to choose a bank that has better charges for overdrafts.
Contact the Bank
You will need to contact your new bank, either by popping into a branch or going online. You will fill in their application and open up an account. You should choose a bank that is using the Current Account Switch Guarantee which ensures everything will be swapped over from your old account within 7 days. Most of the major banks have signed up to this scheme.
There’s a form to complete for this and, if you are closing your old account, you will need to complete a form for that as well.
What Happens Next?
Once the forms are done, a switching date is agreed and the process begins. You should get notification that everything has started and a confirmation that it will be done by the agreed date. Up until then you will continue using your old account. On the switch date, your entire account should swap over to the new provider and the bank is responsible for ensuring that items such as direct debits and payments from your employer are included. That also means that, for a period of 36 months afterwards, any payments made to your old account by mistake are transferred to your new one.
To switch accounts, you only need to fill in the application forms and then let the bank get on with things. Many people take the decision to withdraw some hard cash just in case there are any problems so that they aren’t unduly inconvenienced.
What If I’m Overdrawn?
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be accepted. Normally there needs to be a comparable overdraft facility and you need to have shown that you handle it well.
The Benefits of Switching Bank Account
There are a lot of benefits of switching bank accounts and we should all consider doing it at some time or other. You can end up with an account that is better suited to your needs but also get a bonus from the bank which can put up to £150 into your pocket. It only takes seven days to achieve and your new bank will handle all the difficult details such as swapping over direct debits, regular payments and your wage packet.
If you are planning to get your finances in order this year, all well and good. But if you haven’t thought closely about what happens to your monthly pay cheque and where all that money is going, you could be losing out. Some simple financial mistakes might be costing you more than you think:
1. Not Getting Control of Your Credit Cards
It can be tempting to pay off just the minimum amount of that pesky credit card balance each month but this could be costing you a lot of money in interest. It might be tough on your monthly spend to pay more than you contractually must to keep the company happy, but it’s better than essentially burning money and adding to your costs in the long term.
Our advice: If you have a credit card, try to pay off as much of the balance as you can each month.
2. Staying Overdrawn
It can be an expensive business getting overdrawn at the bank. Even with an authorised overdraft you can be looking at up to £30 extra on your expenditure if you are permanently in the red. Going into unauthorised overdraft can cost you even more, something that can easily happen if a big, unexpected bill suddenly comes along.
Our advice: Get into the habit of staying in the black and work on creating a slush fund that you can call on when those sudden expenditures do come along.
3. Not Tackling Debt
This comes again from behaviours such as only paying back the minimum amount, something that can happen when you have facilities like direct debits for loans and too many outgoings. This can cost you a lot in interest and means you end up spending more in the long run. If you have lots of different loans for different purchases, in some cases, you can be paying over 50% more than the original asking price. Look at Loan Consolidation to make things simpler.
Our advice: Look at your existing debt and work out a plan for reducing it as quickly as possible.
4. Short Term Financial Thinking
It’s a common problem for many households, particularly when you are struggling to make ends meet. We just don’t budget properly and end up spending more than we should or getting into debt because we’ve signed up to too many ‘great’ deals. The biggest mistake that people make with their finances is not keeping a proper track of everything, something that can seriously help you to develop strategies for reducing waste, settling outstanding debts and saving money for the things you want.
Our advice: Get a budget planner and monitor your income and outgoings. You’ll be surprised how this will help you better handing all your finances in 2017.
5. Not Looking for Better Deals
We say it again and again, but it remains something that we are bad at as a nation. Shopping around for better deals can save you money, whether that’s for your insurance, your utility bills or your TV subscription. For instance, have you checked your insurance policy recently? Many have found that they have too much cover which is costing more than they need.
Our advice: Make a promise to check and compare prices for all your big outgoings such as utilities, telephone and broadband and TV subscriptions and swap if you find a cheaper deal.