Making the most of your money in 2012

In this video our experts explain how you can make the most of your money in 2012 by ensuring that you’ve got the best-value policies, products and tariffs for your needs...

With household finances stretched, it could be a tough year for many, so we’ve asked our experts for their top tips to help you make the most of your money in 2012.

Scott Byrom: The biggest energy tip for all consumers out there is to make sure you are on the best possible tariff. For those who have never switched before, you are going to be on a standard tariff. Ultimately, the message is, don’t stand for it!

What you need to do is get onto the cheapest possible deal for you, reduce your bills by £200/£300 and ideally, if you can, fix.

Another energy-saving tip is to make sure your home is fully insulated. Loft insulation and cavity wall insulation are two very easy and cheap ways to insulate your property and reduce your bills considerably.

Those of you who are over the age of 70 actually get this service for free, so contact your current energy supplier to find out how you can apply.

Bob Atkinson: If you are going on holiday in 2012 then get travel insurance from the day that you book as it gives you cancelation cover. Also look out for end supplier failure so you are completely protected when you travel.

When you start looking and planning your breaks for this year, make sure you consider both package holiday prices and also doing it yourself with a separate flight and a hotel.

Whenever you choose to book, compare the two - you might be surprised what will give you the best deal.

Clare Francis: When it comes to mortgages, it is really important to look beyond the headline rate as the lowest rate may not necessarily prove to be the cheapest option.

You also need to factor in the set-up costs - many of the leading deals currently have arrangement fees in excess of £1000. This might be worth paying but it will all depend on the amount you are looking to borrow. In some instances, you might find it's actually cheaper to pay a slightly higher rate in return for a lower fee. The key is to work out the total cost of the mortgage over the term of the deal.

Hannah Skenfield: My top credit card tips for 2012:

Number one: make sure you are not paying interest. It sounds really obvious, but every month millions of us pay interest on our credit cards' balance. So, make sure that on the top of your January to do list, you are switching to a 0% deal.

Tip two: reward your spending. If you are paying your credit card off every month, don’t just sit on the deal you’ve got, make sure your money works really hard for you. There are loads of great rewards deals, from cash back and supermarket points to airline miles. So, make sure you’ve got a card to benefit you next year.

Tip number three: avoid the minimum payment trap. If you aren’t able to pay your card off in full every month, make sure you at least pay the minimum payment and more. Just paying £5 a month or 1% can add years to the time it takes to pay off your credit card balance, so pay off as much as you possibly can every month.

Mike Wilson: My biggest tip for mobiles next year is to make sure you know what your usage looks like and don’t get sold by the biggest deal out there. You may not need that many minutes, texts or data.

So, speak to your current provider, see what your usage looks like and make a decision after that.

Tim Moss: My tip for loans in 2012: we all know January is a big month for consolidating debt, but don’t forget this January is different to last January. We’ve now got something called CCD, which means that this time only 51% of people are going to get the advertised – the typical rate that is – rather than 66% last year.

So, that means that 49% of those applying who are accepted for a loan, will get another rate.

Therefore, my tip is, check your credit file. Don’t give the banks the excuse to give you the higher rate and make sure that anything that is wrong on your credit file gets changed.

Tim Moss: My tip for payday loans, as they are really really popular at the moment, is be careful. Okay, they are there if it’s the last resort and you have checked family and friends, you’ve checked that you can’t get more on your overdraft, you really need this loan, you can't get to work, and the washing machine is broken. But make sure it is a one-time event. Don’t use it month after month after month and get caught in the trap. Make sure it’s one month only.

Kevin Mountford: My tip for 2012: if you are a tax payer and you want to save some money, don’t forget you have an annual ISA allowance. That means an amount of money you can put away and protect the interest from the tax man.

So, this year it's £10,680, but that’s only if you are going to use your stocks and share allowance. If you are purely looking at cash savings, it’s half of that - £5,340. Just think of these products the same as any other savings, they just have a tax wrapper round them.

If you don’t use that allowance, you’ll lose it. And don’t forget you can actually transfer previous monies that are saving in ISAs, so make sure you make the most of your money in 2012

It's therefore well worth taking a bit of time to ensure that you’ve got the best-value policies, products and tariffs for your needs, otherwise you could be missing out on significant savings.

Make 2012 the year that you take firm control of your finances, and remember that MoneySupermarket is here to help.

In the meantime, Happy New Year and best wishes from all of us here at MoneySupermarket.

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