Make 2015 a financial success – with Mrs Moneypenny

Mrs Moneypenny (Channel 4′s Superscrimpers) is writing a series of blog posts for us, all about making better financial decisions in 2015. @mrsmoneypennyft 

2015 is the year that you could really sort out your finances, and here’s how.
First things first: buy a notebook and record, accurately, how much you spend. Set out a page for every area of your life (mortgage/rent, utilities, mobile phone, and council tax, car insurance and so on). Everyone should aim to spend an hour a week on their own finances. Sounds a lot? Contrast that with how much time you spend worrying about them, and it will seem a small sacrifice.

Information is power. How much do you earn? You can calculate your salary per hour using this websites like thesalarycalculator.co.uk , and then you will be able to see how many hours you need to work to afford that new skirt.

Audit your debt. Make an inventory of everything you owe, including listing all your credit cards and the rate of interest charged.

Check your credit report; do this at least annually and make sure there are no errors or areas you need to address. www.experian.co.uk is one place you can do this. You can obtain a copy of your statutory credit report for £2, or you can sign up to a 30 day free trial of Experian’s CreditExpert service – it’s £14.99 per month after the trial if you do not cancel. If there is any incorrect information your credit report, or even partial information, you could  be paying more for credit than you otherwise might be. There are also lots of simple things you can do to improve your Experian Credit Report and Score  which will help lenders look at you more favourably. Did you know that most people only bother to check their credit reports when they are refused for a mortgage or a credit card? Forewarned is forearmed!

Check that you haven’t got any forgotten bank accounts, pensions or even Premium Bond prizes lying around. Surprising as it may seem, many of us open bank accounts and then forget about them, or move house, or die, or open accounts for children and don’t tell them. Check if one of these dormant bank accounts is yours.  There are almost 900,000 unclaimed premium Bond prizes, which means that more than £44 million is sitting there waiting for someone to claim it. If you think some of that money might be yours, have a look at the NSandI website.  Apparently, a quarter of people in the UK with a pension fund have lost their paperwork. If you think you may have lost track of a pension fund you enrolled in a while ago, you can track it down using the government’s online Pension Tracing Service.

Review all your expenditure, one thing at a time. You will have heard all the usual advice about skipping that takeout coffee and making one at work instead, but there are probably much bigger bills you pay that you could reduce. Are you paying too much for your mobile phone bill? Websites such as www.mobilife.com or www.billmonitor.com will let you check your bill to help you  decide what tariff you should really be on.

What does your TV/telephone/internet access cost you? Could you get it cheaper? Or your utilities? Or your car or home insurance?  Most people just renew these things without shopping around, and they could almost always save money by doing so. Use that hour a week to find out if you could be getting a better deal!

Invest in getting your children ahead financially. Start a pension for them – the government will add money to it if you do. You can save very little for them, or the maximum of £2,800 a year, or anything in between. And remember, when they grow up and leave home it is important to put their mobile phone bill into their name – not only does it teach them the importance of paying bills on time, it also helps to build up their own credit reports if they manage the account responsibly, which could be  helpful when one day they want to buy a house or a car and need to borrow some of the money. Remind them that being late with a payment, or missing one, stays on your credit report for six years or even more, so it’s worth making every effort to avoid that.

Could you be earning more money? One way is to let out a room to students – do you know you can earn up to £4,250 from renting out a room in your house without having to pay tax on it? If you live near a university or college, get in touch with their housing department.

Finally, make a will. 60% of people never do this, which just stores up problems for the loved ones they leave behind. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you can even download simple wills from the internet.

Experian, in partnership with Mrs Moneypenny are on a mission to help you make better financial decisions in 2015. To watch more videos in the Mrs Moneypenny series visit youtube.com/experianuk 

Ask #Moneypenny – this Friday

moneypenny-300x200In partnership with Mrs Moneypenny (Channel 4’s Superscrimpers) , we’re on a mission to help people make better financial decisions in 2015.

Between 1 and 2pm on Friday 27th February, Mrs Moneypenny will be taking over our Twitter account, Experian Experts, to answer your questions about how you can make 2015 a financial success. So if you’ve got anything you’d like to ask her, tweet us @ExperianExperts between those times with your questions, using the hashtag #moneypenny.

And that’s not all – the four most interesting questions put to Mrs Moneypenny in that hour will each win £50 of Amazon.co.uk vouchers, as well as a copy of her book Mrs Moneypenny’s Financial Advice for Independent Women.  You can find the full terms and conditions for the competition here.

Mrs Moneypenny will also be contributing guest blog posts on these very pages, and some videos to accompany them. And look out for more Twitter Q and As with Mrs Moneypenny at the end of both April and May.

So that’s Friday 27th Feb, between 1 and 2pm, @ExperianExperts on Twitter. Hope to see you there! #moneypenny

Quiz: How well do you really know your partner?

Valentine’s Day has been and gone already, but the quest for love and harmony goes on all year! We decided to look at how well people know their partner’s attitude to finances. It only takes a minute to do this fun, interactive quiz to find out!

Your Experian Credit Score is a guide that will help you understand how your credit history is likely to be viewed by lenders. It can also help you both understand if one partner’s credit report needs a little work before any joint credit applications, such as a joint mortgage, are made.

 

5 things you need to know about money and relationships

scales-image-300x200Managing your finances and your relationship can be quite a balancing act. Here are five things you need to know about money and your other half:

1. Setting ground rules and being open about money can help living in financial harmony –  Talk about money with your partner – finances can be one of the biggest causes of stress in a relationship. If you don’t talk about it, you can’t plan properly. Take time together to understand if you need to improve one or both of your credit reports. Do this well in advance of applying for credit together.  Try not to keep secrets – research from Experian shows that 29% of people in the UK discovered that their partner was keeping credit card debt from them. While it might be difficult to admit to being in trouble, it will likely be worse if your partner finds out you’ve been hiding something from them.

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Joint finances: how could it affect your credit rating?

Are joint finances right for you?

Are joint finances right for you?

When you are in a committed relationship, how can it affect your credit status? And is it a good idea to have joint finances?

It’s likely that you’ll start to share some financial outgoings; you might move in together and both take responsibility for the rent and bills, for example.

But your finances might also become linked on a deeper level – through financial associations on your credit report. The key is to understand the impact when you apply for credit together with someone else.

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Safer Internet Day

SID2015-300Today (10 Feb) marks the twelfth annual Safer Internet Day (#SID2015), a day dedicated to finding out how we can help make the internet a safer place.

Safer Internet Day’s target is to promote the safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world – the campaign slogan is “Let’s create a better internet together”.  Continue reading

Credit Café: What is financial association?

To begin the second series of Credit Café videos, on the topic of Money and Relationships, our Experian Experts James Jones and Jill O’Connor explain what financial association means, and the impact it can have on your credit report.

You can see all the Credit Café videos so far here on our YouTube playlist.

5 good reasons to register to vote

Being able to vote could potentially help you get credit

Being able to vote could potentially help you get credit

With the general election just months away, the leading names are jostling for position as they covet our votes. But many of us won’t even be able to vote in it, unless we get on the electoral roll – and not doing so could also affect your credit rating.

Today (5th February) is National Voter Registration Day, a day that marks the anniversary of the Great Reform Act in 1832 which first introduced voter registration. The aim for this day is to get 250,000 more young people on to the electoral register, as young people are very much under-represented at present.
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5 tips if you’re thinking of working for yourself

Plumber working on sinkPeople become self employed for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps they want more freedom and want to fit their work around their lives more, perhaps it’s just the best option available, or maybe they feel ready to take on the challenge of running their own business.

Either way, more people than ever are taking the leap into self-employment. According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.53 million people in the UK are self-employed – with 1.67 million taking the plunge in the past five years alone.

Whether you’re a painter & decorator, an internet start-up or planning to write that great novel, there are a few things you could benefit from before you dive into the world of working for yourself. It’s something this writer has tried  – and learned a lot of lessons from. Continue reading

About Debt Awareness Week

Debt Awareness Week: 26 Jan-1 Feb

Debt Awareness Week: 26 Jan-1 Feb

Here’s Rachel Connor from Stepchange.org with a guest blog post to help introduce and explain more about Debt Awareness Week. 

StepChange Debt Charity wants you to take control of debt!
Personal debt is a cause of worry for millions across the UK, and it’s estimated that some 2.9 million people desperately need debt advice right now*. The trouble is that many people who are struggling simply don’t know where to start. They may not even know that free debt advice is available to them.

Monday 26 January will see the launch of StepChange Debt Charity’s second annual Debt Awareness Week. During this week, we’ll encourage people to get free debt advice as soon as they need it. Continue reading