Family finance tips for every budget

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Do I need a will?

Do I need a will?I have singularly failed this year to make one of my resolutions: namely, to update my will. And I feel really stupid about it. My current will was written not long after my husband died nearly 10 years ago. It’s a professionally-written, water-tight will which expresses my desires accurately (most ...

The five savings lessons you MUST learn now

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Be safe sending cash for Christmas

Be safe sending cash for ChristmasUnless you’ve got a turbo-charged sleigh, enabling you to make last-minute deliveries anywhere in the world, then the easiest Christmas present for friends and relatives overseas is cash. Indeed, it’s probably a good option for anyone you’re not going to see over the Christmas period even if they ar...

How to save money on breakdown cover

How to save money on breakdown coverAlong with the rest of the country at least part of our Christmas holiday will be spent chugging up and down motorways visiting friends and relations. My car is a boring reliable Japanese tank but this time last year it refused to start - embarrassingly enough in the school car park. After that, I b...

What to do with unwanted – or faulty – Christmas presents

What to do with unwanted – or faulty – Christmas presentsChristmas is all about giving. But what happens if the gift you so lovingly bought doesn’t work – or the recipient really doesn’t like it? These are two separate problems governed by different rules. And consumer rights law is jolly complicated. It depends how you bought something – and how long it ...

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Best bank accounts for children 11 and over: our guide to the top payers

Best bank accounts for children 11 and over: our guide to the top payersBank accounts for 11 year olds? Whatever next? Scarily it is possible for your tweenager to have a fully functioning debit card of their own at such a tender age. Some parents will worry that this kind of access to cash means going overboard on in-game purchases. The flip side of the argument is tha...

Money gifts which aren’t just for Christmas: pass on wealth now

Money gifts which aren’t just for Christmas: pass on wealth nowInheritance planning might not be on your mind right now – or at least until you see old Aunt Agatha dozing off over her sherry on Christmas Day. But actually the festive season is a good time to start thinking about passing on wealth, for both gifters and giftees. It’s important because there’s ple...

Mums MUST sign up for child benefit or risk losing thousands in state pension

Mums MUST sign up for child benefit or risk losing thousands in state pensionHave you signed up for child benefit? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Since the system changed in 2013, many parents have decided not to. This is partly because they might not be eligible (child benefit used to be universal, sadly no longer) and partly because the paperwork is offputting. But, by d...

How to sell unwanted gift cards and vouchers

How to sell unwanted gift cards and vouchersGift cards are pretty much all I want for Christmas. In fact, cold hard cash would be nice but I certainly won’t saying no to an M&S voucher if Santa drops one into my stocking. The mini-Minteds are keen for them too: not M&S of course. Game and Urban Outfitters have been strongly tipped as ...

Free stuff, samples and where to find them online

Free stuff, samples and where to find them onlineFreebies – who doesn’t love them? I’m partial to a giveaway and will regularly cross town for a complimentary glass of wine. I wouldn’t say no to a two-for-one or BOGOF deal and am very happy to accept a free sample, especially of the Aperol variety. As my experience of such generosity is limited to...

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Ten credit card tricks that WILL save you money

  1. Even if you don’t need to borrow money, get a credit card. Without one you’re unlikely to be able to hire a car overseas; you’ll miss out on valuable Consumer Credit Act protection; and, if you don’t have a credit card, it may affect your credit rating.
  2. That doesn’t mean you should run up big bills on credit cards. They work best if you miss out on the ‘credit’ bit and use them as a way to delay payment or to collect rewards.
  3. If you don’t need to borrow money, choose a card which rewards spending either in cash or in vouchers. We like Santander 123 for cash, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis for vouchers.
  4. For this card trick to work you MUST pay the balance back in full every month (set up a direct debit to that effect). Otherwise any benefit you get will be outweighed by the interest you pay on your debt.
  5. If you need to borrow, go for a card with the lowest APR (annual interest) you can get. Watch out if your credit record isn’t spotless: you won’t necessarily get the APR on offer.
  6. You can get 0% cards at the moment which means you pay no interest on your shopping as long as you make at least the minimum payment each month.
  7. Many credit card firms also offer 0% on balance transfers. These are a good idea if you’ve got an outstanding debt on another card. BUT you will often pay a transfer fee of around 2% to move money over. To make 0% balance transfers work, use the free period to repay all your outstanding debt and DON’T spend on it. Hide the card so you’re not tempted and check out our guide to giving your purse a break too.
  8. All good things come to an end, just like the special 0%. Then you have to pay interest. Make a note of the expiry period so you can move elsewhere once the deal finishes.
  9. If you can, pay more than the minimum monthly payment. Often this is set at 5% or less – so you’ll take ages (and pay huge amounts of interest) if you stick to the schedule.
  10. NEVER take out money from a cash machine on your credit card. See our guide to holiday money here. Even if you pay your bill off in full, you’ll usually still pay interest on your cash withdrawal and there could be a cash withdrawal fee too.

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