/ Money

Have you thought about fixing your finances?

As tradition goes Lent is a time to give something up until Easter. The popular choice for those participating in Lent is to ditch chocolate in the anticipation of an Easter binge. But, if you are giving something up, what about something a bit more practical?

If you’re participating in Lent and thinking of giving something up, you might be trialling giving up a bad habit such as smoking, nail biting or even ditching unhealthy food and drink during this period. But you could think outside the box a bit.

So what about making moves to help you to a more financially savvy future?

Fix your finances

With this in mind, here are four financial habits you might want to consider giving up, regardless of whether you’re participating in Lent or not.

  1. 1. Spending extra cash on your take-away treat

Almost every money-saving tips article advises against spending your cash on pre-made coffees or lunches every day. Those coffees and sarnies certainly add up.

If you’re planning on making your own lunch or morning brew throughout Lent, why not put the money you save in an instant-access savings account? The Which? Money Compare Savings and ISA tables let you search hundreds of savings accounts and ISAs to find a great savings rate based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

Your costly take-away lattes could soon become a nice little Easter treat.

  1. 2. Auto-renewals

Whether it’s haggling with your energy provider or getting the best from your mobile phone provider. Our research has proven that it’s almost always a fruitful route to the best deal.

Our haggling survey shows that our members cut their annual bills by more than £500 by haggling over the cost of five products and services.

The key is to shop around for prices being offered by other company, and asking your current provider to match it. If they don’t, you could always switch. Our eMindme tool can help remind you when your contract is due for renewal.

  1. 3. Spending beyond your means

It’s easy to focus on your present needs and spend more money than you have, but this always comes back to bite us when it comes to our longer-term financial goals.

We’ve created a six-step guide on balancing your household budget for those struggling to reign in their spending.

  1. 4. Paying interest on your credit card debt

No-one enjoys paying interest on a credit card, and it’s not always necessary either. You could move your credit card debt onto a balance-transfer credit card, and give yourself a welcome break from paying interest on your credit card debt.

Some cards give you up to three years to pay off the debt without charging a penny in interest, although you may have to pay an initial balance-transfer fee.

Just make sure you clear your debt before the end of the 0% period to avoid being charged at the standard APR thereafter.

The Which? Money Compare credit card tables let you search hundreds of cards from providers to help you choose a great deal based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

So will you be trying out any of these financial tips?

Comments
Member

try.which.co.uk/emindme

is an excellent idea and I welcome it provided it is a member option – after all there needs to be a reason to subscribe at £90+ a year.

The Privacy Policy deters me slightly:
1. Your information
We, and the companies who work on our behalf, collect your information for the purpose of providing you with the products and services you purchase from us, for enhancing your online experience, and so we can better understand our customers and consumers in general. This includes the information you give us, the information we acquire from third parties and which is generated by you – including your use of this website and how you arrived at our website in the first place. We also record calls for monitoring and training purposes.
We, and the ad companies which work on our behalf may serve you adverts on other websites about things which you’ve shown an interest in on our own website. This is called retargeting advertising. You can find out more about this and how to control it here
We know that out customers would like to easily find the content on our website that they’re most interested in, so we may tailor parts of our website and our communications to things which you’ve shown a previous interest in. You can find out more about this and how to control it here.
We know that many of our customers like to communicate with their social networks while on our website – so we have the plugins and tools available to allow this. This means social network companies may collect information on you from this site. You can find out more about this here.

Member

It’s the opposite of ‘privacy’ actually, isn’t it? My thoughts turn to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations . . . !!

Member

Maybe we should ask Which? to look into this important consumer issue. 🙂

If our information is to be shared then please have the courtesy to seek our permission rather than have to opt-out.

Member

Thanks for the comment dieseltaylor, I’ve shared your feedback with the Emindme team. Emindme is in a test phase at the moment and we’ve opend it up to anyone to use in this first phase in order to get enough information on how best to continue to improve it. Using Emindme will not result in any marketing emails or communications being generated to the customer and the data is not shared with any third parties. Thanks again

Member

Just to clarify on Emindme, you’ll receive relevant tips, guidance and information about our services in your reminder email but using Emindme will not result in ongoing marketing emails from us or from third parties.

And I just want to pick up on your concerns about our privacy policy. This governs the way we process data across all of our services. As we are ultimately responsible for the way in which companies who work on our behalf deal with our customer’s information, we make sure they pass our own checks so that we can be confident that they’ll keep our customer’s information safe. We will only share our customer’s information with other companies for marketing purposes where those customers have expressly consented for us to do so.

Member

Essentially this should be an in-house service for members so that there is no possibility of our data being shared with anyone – apart from obviously the sending operation.

I do think on that basis it has value . If Which? are yet again trying to monetise a service then that is not acceptable and that is why I mentioned subscribers and it being a benefit.

Slightly galling to consider my suggestion of people providing data of the products they own to improve surveys particularly on reliabilty ,usage , and durability etc – is not far removed this idea is it? Could save £0.5m a year and have much greater accuracy ……..

Member

What has helped me a great deal is to pay all regular outgoings by direct debit. That includes paying off credit card bills in time to avoid interest charges. Nowadays I can check details of my DDs on my bank’s website and after many years I have never had a single problem. I am wary about standing orders having once landed up with an overdraft because I was paying both the old and new amount for my mortgage, but that was sorted out immediately and I did not pay interest.

I know others who have had problems with direct debit but the errors have been corrected and they have not lost money.

Member

I note that in Germany there is a good annual system that perhaps Which? could address:

“Schufa & Co
How good and understandable information bureaus?

” Get a cell phone contract? Online shopping Simple? get a credit? In such contexts customers rely on their data are correct and their calculations of credit consistent with reporting agencies. Anyone these data should check once a year. This is free. But how understandable the information from Schufa, Bürgel & Co? Financial test has tested it and requested personal credit reports at five German bureaus. ”

Are we in the UK able to get a free report annually?

Member

“4. Sharing your Information
We share your information with:
Companies who work on our behalf
Our company group
Government, law enforcement agencies, the courts and regulatory bodies when legally obliged to
other specific companies where you have expressly consented”

Where you, as in Which?, can chop and change the “Companies who work on our behalf” it does mean we have to believe that the companies you use are acceptable. For instance Which? uses Google which many people are not happy with but may put up with it.

But what other companies does Which? use?

Member

Looked at emindme. I suppose for anyone not very organised it might be OK, but I worry when I see “targeting advertising”. I’ll have to accept that all those who might target me are the best, honest, most appropriate people Which? can find to help me. Presumably this is where Which? make there money out of a “free” service, so will it be subject to commercial pressures from companies looking to get the cachet of Which? behind them. Sorry to be a little cynical, but I really would like Which? to do much better at its core business, and leave this kind of thing to others.

Almost everyone, if they can receive emails, will have an electronic diary of some sort – on their electronic device. I’m still on Vista and use Windows Calendar. That is dead easy to enter a due date for a payment, with advance warning up to 2 weeks ahead, and recurrence daily, weekly, monthly or custom made. I also use MS Money – sadly a home accounts package that is no longer available – which again brings up payment reminders. No shared data with third parties and seemingly as easy to use, or more so, than telling emindme – and who knows whoever else.

Sorry to seem sceptical. Perhaps someone could tell me where I’ve missed the real benefit – if you’re organised enough to tell emindme surely you’re organised enough to do this in your electronic diary? Without any privacy issues.

Member

I started using the calendar in Microsoft Outlook when I was working and continued to use it when I retired. A year ago my laptop started to misbehave and when I realised that this was a serious hardware problem I ordered a new computer. I assumed that it would be easy to recover all my files and emails because I had three very recent backups, one being the day before the computer became unusable. It was straightforward to load all the files but the email and email addresses would not load and the calendar was blank. Despite considerable effort I never recovered the missing data apart from some email folders mysteriously reappeared as if by magic a few weeks later. I had meeting dates and times for six organisations carefully recorded with alerts, like you do. Some information could be found in meeting minutes but I had lost the dates and venues of talks I had agreed to do. This was a big setback for someone who prided themselves in having never lost a single file in over 30 years of using a computer. I still use an electronic calendar (not Outlook) because synchronisation with the phone is so useful, but also make a note of important dates in a diary.

Member

….. along with your Reminder to help you to understand and find the best value services available at that time. Where we think you may find a Which? service useful, we will send you details of this too XXXX(for example if you’ve asked XXX us to remind you to review your gas or electricity bill, we may send you details of our free to use Which? Switch service to enable you to find a better deal). Your use of any Which? services will be subject to the terms of use that apply to that service.

b. what we can’t do:
Emindme is a reminder service,………., therefore Emindme should not be relied upon as the sole way to remember your important dates. We recommend keeping a record elsewhere as a back-up.

2. General
……… Which? reserves the right to withdraw the Emindme service or to amend these terms and conditions at any time, without notice. If the Emindme service is withdrawn, we will still send any Reminders you requested before the service was withdrawn
………..
The guidance we send to you along with your Reminder may include links to other websites operated by third parties. We do not endorse these third parties and we do not have any control over the nature or accuracy of content on these websites or the way in which they will use the data you provide to them.

1 . Someone needs to sort the typo.
2. The final paragraph seems a disconnect with the example in the first paragraph
3. And of course if someone uses W? Switch each time then the money goes to Which? and that increases the gross income stream which leads to a £2.24m bonus being paid this year to four execs.

In any event these seems a deliberate attempt to maximise income for a charity happy to pay its CEO over a third of a million and pay huge performance bonuses to four members of staff. AgeUK’s top dog is on around 170K and very few get over £100k and they are getting it in the neck for being opaque about what is going on.

It grieves me that we seem to be reduced to a services and chat organisation where in Holland the Consumentenbond are taking Samsung to Court over its lazy policy on up-dating the versions of Chrome with better protection. I am lead to understand this casual up-dating policy applies to the UK also.