Make 2011 the year that you tackle your finances and get a grip on debt. Which? Money experts help you navigate the money maze with our top tips for 2011.
- Get a 0% balance transfer credit card. If you’re paying the average interest rate of around 17% on your credit card and have a good credit rating, it’s time to switch. The best 0% balance transfer deals currently available offer 16 months interest-free. Even after paying a 3% transfer fee, switching a £2,000 balance to a Best Rate card would save you around £300 over the 16-month period, assuming a monthly repayment of £50.
- Check out your local credit union. Credit unions offer community-based loans that are capped at 26.8%, with many charging much less. Credit unions offer much better value than payday loans, logbook loans or doorstep lenders.
- Avoid commercial debt management companies. Why pay for a service that is available better and free from an independent, free debt advice organisation such as CCCS, National Debtline or Citizens Advice?
- Start saving regularly. Putting even a small amount into a savings account each month could significantly ease your money stresses next Christmas. If you have children in full-time education under 18, Norwich & Peterborough BS’s Family Regular Saver account pays 5% interest.
- Reject interest rate hikes on your credit card. If your credit card provider hikes the rate on your card, you have the right to reject the increase, cancel the card and pay your debt back gradually at your old rate. Use our free credit card template letters.
- Cut your household bills down to size. Which? has handy guides to cutting your household costs, whether it’s slashing your gas and electricity bills with Which? Switch or saving on food, motoring or train travel.
- Use a personal finance software package. We’ve found some excellent software packages that are free to download and could help you track and control your borrowings and your outgoings. Read our personal finance software reviews for more details.
- Reclaim mis-sold PPI. Some banks have tried to put a hold on claims processing, but you should still put in your complaint. Use our free PPI complaint tool to get the ball rolling.
Which? debt advice
If you need help with tackling problem debts, read the Which? How to deal with debt advice guide.
Which? Money when you need it
You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.
Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.
Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what’s going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.