Get financially fit for 2012

Covered mag, presented by
  • | by Kristian Dando

“April is the cruellest month,” chirped T.S Eliot in his upbeat 1922 romp The Waste Land.

Well, he was wrong. Very clever old T.S might have been, but anybody could have told him that January, with its unrelenting gloominess, financial hangovers, bulging post-Christmas wastelines and general fuggy air of misery is the lousiest of the year by quite a stretch.

What better time then, to take your finances firmly by the horns and wrestle them into a fit state for the New Year? You’d be surprised at how much taking your money situation into a more optimistic place will go to shaking off the post-Yule funk.

And you certainly won’t be alone - according to research from this very site, over 26 million of us in Britain have put getting our finances in order at the top of our list of our priorities for 2012, if the 49 per cent of the 3,000 people we surveyed is anything to go by. It’s not as difficult as you might think, either. We’ve rounded up five super-easy ways of making changes that might stand you in better financial stead in the future. And the best part is that you can do most of them in a few clicks from this very website. Bravo!

Switch to a 0 per cent balance transfer credit card

If you’ve racked up a whopping great credit card bill over Christmas, don’t worry, you won’t be the first and certainly won’t be the last. But paying too much to service your festive debt is just plain daft. Thankfully, there are literally loads of 0 per cent balance transfer cards with varying lengths of interest-free periods for you to pay off what you owe. You’ll usually have to pay a fee (somewhere between five and ten per cent of your credit card debt) to switch, so do your sums to make sure it’s worth your while. 

Get an ISA

Individual Savings Accounts (Or ISAs, as they're almost always abbreviated to) are one of the few legitimate ways you can get one over on the gimlet-eyed taxman. Because of the historically low base rate, interest typically offered on standards ISAs is universally dismal. However, stocks and shares ISAs which, as their name suggests, are linked to stocks and shares, can represent a better chance of your money growing, even if they are riskier. 

Switch your car insurance

Unfortunately, loyalty usually counts for next to nothing when it comes to car insurance, with lots of insurers rewarding years of custom with nothing but price hikes. But you could make a big saving on what you pay by jumping ship to another insurer. You may have noticed that we have an industry-leading tool for you to do just that on this very site, featuring a massive range of insurers. It’s an ideal place to start. While you’re at it, you could do the same with your home insurance

Review your utilities

Last year was a lousy one for energy customers everywhere, with the ‘big six’ suppliers announcing increases to what customers pay for their gas and electricity. What’s more, the energy companies were criticised for the ‘complex and misleading’ pricing plans by MPs in Parliament. But fear not! We, along with our partners Energylinx, have made it as clear and easy as possible for you to cut a path through the utiliies jungle and see if you could save money on your gas and electricity with this quick and simple comparison tool. Who knows what you might save?

Get a pension

You’re not getting any younger, and in case you’ve been putting your fingers in your ears and going “NER NER NER, I CAN’T HEAR YOU”, you’ll have noticed lots of reportage of Britain apparently staring down the barrel of an impending pensions crisis. So, you might want to have a think about putting some money aside for when you’re older. You might well regret it if you don’t.