One resolution it pays you to keep

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Talk of new year's resolutions is unavoidable in early January. But with many of us realising by the middle of the month that our good intentions are no more than that, bothering to make them in the first place can seem a waste of time.

Talk of new year's resolutions is unavoidable in early January. But with many of us realising by the middle of the month that our good intentions are no more than that, bothering to make them in the first place can seem a waste of time.

While your plans to visit the gym every day, give up smoking or cut back on alcohol may be destined to fail, now is a good time of year to review your finances.

Who didn't spend too much over the festive period? And who has the time, or inclination, to sit down on a regular basis and take a cool look at their finances?

Questions such as whether you could get a better rate of interest on your current account, never mind your savings, and whether you should find a new credit card because the 0 per cent introductory offer has come to an end, aren't asked often enough. Many of us could save a lot of cash by remortgaging to a better deal, but how many of us will take the time to think about such things when we are busy planning our summer holiday? Thus January is, quite simply, the best time of year to consider these questions. There isn't much else going on, and many of us have to file a self-assessment tax return to the Inland Revenue by the end of the month, so we will be going through our finances anyway.

If the fact that your finances could do with an overhaul when you have the time isn't incentive enough, consider this: in the course of this year we are set to throw away £6bn in lost or overpaid interest charges. According to research from Intelligent Finance, many consumers stick with financial products that don't pay their way, costing each household £315 this year.

With the threat of an increase in interest rates in coming months - possibly taking them to 5 per cent by the end of the year - our wallets are likely to be under pressure. If there is any opportunity to save cash by taking advantage of lower interest charges on credit cards and overdrafts, and better rates on savings, it should be taken.

It may seem daunting but sifting through your finances shouldn't take more than a few hours, particularly if you have access to the internet. And switching your current account, credit card or mortgage shouldn't take long either. In terms of the savings you can make, it could be a profitable few hours.

m.bien@independent.co.uk

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