How to make your money work harder for you
We all know how volatile the economy is at the moment. Talk of a double dip recession abounds and who is to know what painful effects the Government's spending cuts will have on the pound in your pocket. As for personal finances these are under acute pressure with savings rates at an historic low, loans often difficult and expensive to come by and deals appearing and disappearing again in the blink of an eye.
Against this backdrop it's important to be on the look out for the very best deal, have your wits about you; what topped the best-buy tables even a few weeks ago may now be an also ran. But don't give up hope, there are deals out there to be had, here's a guide to some of the best ways to make your money work a little bit harder for you.
Get paid by your bank
At present, most banks are offering extremely low or no interest on their current accounts. But that doesn't mean you can't make a bit of extra cash out of your monthly pay packet. Rather than searching for an account paying a favourable interest rate, there are a number of accounts with cashback incentives. Santander offers £100 to new customers to switch to the In-Credit Rate Account and First Direct also offers £100 to open a First Account. However, there are exclusions with both accounts related to minimum monthly deposits and existing customers. Likewise, Halifax pays Reward Current Account customers £5 every month they deposit more than £1,000.
If you're tempted by a fee-charging account offering supposedly better service and a few extras, the Co-operative Bank is offering a 12-month free trial on its Privilege and Premiere accounts. Currently costing between £9.50 and £13 a month, the Co-op claims the accounts offer benefits worth more than £600 and £800 annually respectively. If you are thinking of applying, the offer ends on 20 November.
Don't fall into the overdraft trap
True, cashback offers could be attractive for those who remain in credit on their current accounts. However, it could be a mistake to be blinded by the promise of cashback if you routinely go overdrawn. For instance, Halifax's tempting £5 per month becomes much less palatable once you factor in overdraft fees. Authorised overdrafts cost one or two pounds a day but unauthorised overdrafts cost £5 per day. If you know you will slip into the red from time to time, you could opt for Santander's Preferred Overdraft Rate Account and get an overdraft at 0 per cent for 12 months. With this account you can get an overdraft of up to £5,000 depending on your circumstances.
Be a regular savings switcher
Make no bones about it; the situation is pretty bleak for anyone who wants to build up a nest egg. Although options may be limited, there are nevertheless a few profitable avenues remaining. There are numerous accounts which pay an introductory bonus, normally for six or 12 months, which will beat the Bank of England interest rate. One word to the wise, though: at the end of the bonus period switch to another provider otherwise you will start to receive a much lower rate of interest.
Review your debt
Rather than giving equal attention to all your debts, you might want to think about "snowballing". Using this technique, you concentrate your efforts on paying off one of your debts – obviously it's wise to choose the debt with the highest APR. In the meantime, you make the minimum repayments on other debts.
As soon as you have paid your first debt, turn your attention to the next and keep going until you're debt free. This approach could help you feel you're making more headway with your financial problems as your creditors start to decrease in number.
Are you using all your credit cards?
As well as securing the credit cards for your borrowing habits, it could also be a good idea to get rid of those you aren't using.
Even if you don't have debt on a card, it could nevertheless have a damaging impact on your financial health. If you apply for credit, referencing agencies take into account the amount of credit you can currently obtain.
The greater the unused credit, the more potential you have to rack up debts. A card that has been sitting unused in your wallet for years could prevent you from obtaining a card with an attractive 0 per cent introductory offer in the future.
- 1 Michelle Watt's father says TV presenter killed herself because she was in constant pain
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 4 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 5 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
Day In a Page
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.