Spring clean your finances

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    With the advent of the new financial year, it’s a great time to check if you’re being sensible with your money. From your bank accounts, to direct debits and your credit score, it’s worth checking to see if you’re making any unnecessary payments, or whether you can save yourself some money.

    Check your direct debits
    If you pay for your bills via direct debit, you might already be saving yourself some money. However, it’s a good idea to check if you’re paying the right sum for the amount of gas, electricity and other utilities you use.

    When paying for your utilities by direct debit, energy companies will usually estimate the annual payment you should make for your usage. In summer months, when you might not use your utilities as much, you may find that you’re paying for more than you’re using and that this discrepancy isn’t evened out by your winter usage. You could save money on your monthly repayments by checking if you’re paying the right amount to your suppliers.

    Check your direct debit is right with advice from Money Saving Expert

    Make sure your memberships and subscriptions are relevant and legitimate
    With the plethora or services available in 2020, it’s easy to lose sight of your subscriptions and memberships if you’re not careful, particularly if you renew on an annual basis.

    Even if you think you’re only subscribed to what you need to be, it’s worth going through your bank and credit card statements to check if you’re making any unnecessary payments.

    It might be that at some point you signed up for a free trial with your payment details, and now you’re paying for a membership you don’t want. Take a look through a few months’ recent transactions and you should be able to spot anything unusual.

    Evaluate your bank account
    You might think that because you’ve had a bank account with a certain organisation for years, you’re getting the best reward for your loyalty. However, you might get more rewards by switching your account to a new bank.

    It’s worth doing some research to find out if your bank has any particular services that you don’t need but are paying for, or if it has higher charges on payments such as foreign cash withdrawals. You should speak to your bank to see if your account truly suits your needs. If it doesn’t, you can use the Current Account Switch Service to quickly and easily change accounts.

    For more tips on consolidating your bank accounts, read our tips on how to plan (and keep) your financial resolutions

    Improve your credit score
    Your credit score is a useful tool that can help you to borrow money when you really need it, whether for a credit card, mortgage or other type of loan.

    You can check your credit score with a number of credit-checking agencies, including Equifax, TransUnion or Experian. These checks won’t affect your credit rating or your credit score.

    To tidy up your credit score, you could plan to pay off any debt you might have on credit cards. You might want to consider transferring your debt to a 0% balance transfer card that will delay interest on the amount you owe for a set period, giving you time to pay it off interest-free.

    It’s also sensible to review your credit cards and think about getting rid of any credit card accounts you no longer use, as well as refraining from applying for credit if your score is low. Making sure your details are on the electoral role and matches the address provided to credit card companies can also help improve your score.

    You could also consider taking out a credit-building credit card and ensuring that your monthly payments are repaid in full, indicating your ability to pay down debt. It would be a good idea to speak to a professional advisor before making changes that could affect your credit score.

    Speak to a professional
    Sometimes, evaluating your financial health is too complicated to do by yourself, or can seem too labour-intensive. You can call in a trusted financial professional to help you keep your finances in order, and to help you set goals for saving, retirement and more. Check that any professional you approach is appropriately qualified with the Financial Conduct Authority’s guide.

    Get advice about finding a suitable financial adviser with the FCA 

    Mortgages
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    Castle Trust is the trading name of both Castle Trust Capital plc (company number 07454474) and Castle Trust Capital Management Limited (company number 07504954) both registered in England and Wales with registered offices at 10 Norwich Street, London, EC4A 1BD. Castle Trust Capital plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, under reference number 541910. Castle Trust Capital Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, under reference number 541893.

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