with the Government's cost-cutting strategy looming on the horizon, many people are already tightening their belts and preparing their own finances for what could be a bumpy couple of years.
If you take a close look at your budget to see where you can make your own cut backs, there will be some obvious costs that can be eliminated just by spending a few minutes reading through your last few month's bank statements.
For some it will be the infrequently used gym membership that rightly gets the chop or perhaps insurances that you had forgotten about but no longer need, but for some people it will be the cost of their overdraft that is taking an overly large bite out of their disposable income.
If this sounds like you and you're looking to spend less on being in the red, then the new MBNA Platinum credit card launched this week could well be the answer. The card offers balance transfers, and more importantly money transfers, at a promotional rate of just 1.9 per cent for 12 months.
While interest-free offers enabling you to switch balances from one piece of plastic to another are almost ten a penny, the option to use a money transfer to clear non-card debts is a rare opportunity to save on expensive loan or overdraft interest.
Unlike a balance transfer transaction, a money transfer can be paid into your current account, thus giving you more flexibility and opportunities to reduce your banking costs.
The other big plus point with this particular deal is that the usual hefty money transfer handling fee of 4 per cent is waived for transfers made within the first 90 days.
To put the potential cost savings into perspective, a £2,500 personal loan from NatWest could set you back £272.96 in interest in 12 months or an overdraft of the same size with HSBC just shy of £498, whereas to borrow this sum with MBNA at 1.9 per cent for 12 months will cost you just £47.50 in interest. (The standard 4 per cent handling fee in this scenario would have normally set you back £100).
This is an excellent opportunity to get to grips with your overdraft and save some serious money in the process. The interest rate on the card reverts to 16.9 per cent APR typical after 12 months, so make the most of the low rate and knock your debts into shape while you can.
If its credit card debt rather than overdraft that you're looking to switch, then take a look at the latest 16 month interest-free deal just launched by Barclaycard with its Platinum card. Transfers are subject to a one off 2.90 per cent fee, minimum £7.25.
If you're smart, you'll have cleared your balance or at least made big inroads within the promotional period, if you don't then you're exactly the sort of profitable customer that credit card providers dream of.
Great deals available for canny savers
we've seen plenty of activity in the savings market this week, with some good new deals appearing across a range of product areas.
Aldermore has increased the rates on its two and three-year bonds and sits top of the best buys for both terms with fixed rates of 3.75 per cent gross and 4.15 per cent gross respectively. Both bonds offer a monthly interest option, are available online, by post or by phone and can be opened with a minimum balance of £1,000.
For a shorter-term fixed rate check out the new Online Bond from the Post Office which pays 2.80 per cent AER fixed for 12 months and, unlike most other best buy one-year bonds, gives you the chance to receive interest monthly.
If you're looking for a decent rate whilst still being able to access your cash without notice or penalty, the new online saver also from Post Office is definitely worth a look. The best buy rate of 2.75 per cent AER includes a bonus of 1.25 per cent for the first 12 months and allows unlimited access to your cash whenever you need it. You can open the account with as little as £1 and can opt to have your interest paid monthly or annually.
For younger savers, Northern Rock has started a new version of its "Little Rock" savings bond. The first edition of this account paid a very impressive 5 per cent fixed for three years and not surprisingly was withdrawn from sale due to overwhelming demand after just seven days. The latest version pays a lower but still very attractive rate of 4 per cent, again fixed for three years available for deposits from £1 to a maximum of £20,000. The account is available by post or in branch only.
Andrew Hagger is a money analyst at Moneynet.co.uk