Fix your finances in 2017

Advice from the experts at MoneySuperMarket

Updated: 
Businessman working on spreadsheet on laptop

New Year, new start? Millions of us will greet 2017 with a desire to improve ourselves.

From fitness to finances, we'll view this as the perfect opportunity to ditch bad habits and acquire some good ones.

When it comes to money, there are a number of steps you can take to save money on your household bills and generally spruce up your financial situation.

Here are our top suggestions for making 2017 the year when you finally get your financial act together.


Energy

If 2016 was the year of anticipating price increases, then 2017 is when the hikes will begin to bite. That's why we're urging consumers to resolve to switch to a cheap fixed rate tariff, rather than languish on an expensive standard variable rate deal.

Comparing and switching energy tariffs could save you over £200 each year, and the process is swift and straightforward.

Once you've found a deal you like, simply sign up – then leave it to your current and new supplier to handle the rest.

The switch should take around 21 days, and there will be no interruption of your energy supply throughout the process.

The only difference will be receiving bills from a different provider, and you'll be paying less!

Further things you can do to cut your energy bills are to make sure your loft is effectively insulated, drop your thermostat by a degree and use draft excluders.

Team these handy tips with switching provider – and hey presto! You're on your way to saving money on your energy bills.


Credit Cards

Balance transfer cards
Credit cards can be a helpful way to stretch your finances that little bit further – especially at an expensive time of the year such as Christmas.

However, if you rely on the plastic, then once the festivities come to an end, you'll need to sort out the outstanding balance.

One option is to consider is dodging interest by shifting your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card – you pay a percentage of the amount you are moving (say, 3%, so transferring a £500 balance would cost you £15) and then pay no interest for however long the deal is for.

The MBNA Platinum credit card, offers a 0% interest rate for 43 months, providing you make your first balance transfer within 60 days of opening your account. If you transfer £1,000 or more, you'll get £20 cashback (terms & conditions apply).

You'll have to pay a 3.29% fee on the amount you transfer.

Representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% pa (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

Barclaycard is also offering £20 cashback when you make a balance transfer of £500 or more within 60 days of account opening its Platinum 42-month card. T&Cs apply. This is a limited offer that ends on 6 February 2017.

Representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% pa (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

A number of other providers, including Virgin, Halifax and Nuba offer 41-month deals.

Using MoneySuperMarket's comparison tool, you can search to find a balance transfer credit card that is right for you, and aligned to your individual financial circumstances.

Purchase cards
If you're intending on hitting the January sales or booking your next holiday, purchase credit cards are ideal for savvy shoppers.

And 0% purchase cards can provide you with up to 28 months of interest-free spending, such as the Sainsbury Purchase Credit Card.

Representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% pa (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

It's worth checking out MoneySuperMarket's Smart Search tool before you apply as this will give you an idea of the cards you are more likely to be accepted for without leaving any evidence on your credit file.


Current Accounts
Why not make 2017 the year to get the most out of your current account?

It's worth keeping your options open when considering opening or changing your current account. Increasing competitiveness among banks mean each will have unique offers and promotions, from cashback to 0% overdraft rates.

First Direct's 1st Account is offering £125 when you switch to their current account via MoneySuperMarket.

The deal is only open to new customers and you'll need to pay in at least £1,000 a month – and terms & conditions apply.


Savings

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to become a savvy-saver, opening an individual savings account (ISA) should be at the top of your list as any interest you earn is yours to keep, tax-free.

If you're wanting to save up for a long-term goal, such as your child's future university fund, a fixed rate bond makes the most sense as locking your money away usually offers the highest returns.

While you can secure a higher rate by choosing a longer term, be aware that you won't be able to access to your money until the end of your term (without paying a penalty).

If you'd rather have instant access to your savings, an easy access account would be more preferable – although the interest rate would be lower in most cases.

And if you want to set aside a certain amount each month, it's worth checking out the returns offered by a regular savings account.

Compare a full range of savings accounts here.


Loans

With a personal loan, you can usually borrow up to £25,000 (circumstances permitting), and it often works out cheaper to take out loan for a larger amount. For example, a £1,000 loan could mean you pay 12% but only pay 7% on a £7,000 loan.

It's worth checking out MoneySuperMarket's Smart Search tool as this allows you search for a loan and gives you an indication of which lenders are likely to accept your application without affecting your credit file.


Car insurance

Your car insurance is another way for you to save money in 2017. It can be tempting to let your insurer auto-renew your policy, but this can result in you paying more than you would by shopping around and switching to a cheaper provider.

Over half of MoneySuperMarket's customers saved up to £284 by switching provider*.

It's also a common misconception that third party insurance is the cheapest option to go for, and although this used to be the case, nowadays fully comprehensive policies can sometimes come out cheaper.

Again, this can depend on your personal circumstances – but when comparing car insurance, be sure to compare policies that are both third party and fully comp.

It's essential to find a policy that covers you for what you need, whether that's legal expenses or breakdown cover, as it's not all about the cheapest price.

*51% of customers could save up to £284.50 Customer Intelligence, October 2016

Home insurance

As with car insurance, the cheapest home insurance policies are often saved for new customers, not those who renew with the same firm, so switching to a new insurance provider makes sense it terms of saving money.

It's by shopping around and comparing deals that you can identify quickly and easily a new policy that will suit you and your home. We reckon there are typically savings of £75 year to be made*.

Many providers also offer a discount should you take out both buildings and contents insurance with them, and could see you saving up to 20%.

Alongside this, there are other ways to bring your home insurance costs down, such as paying for your policy up front as this often works out cheaper in comparison to paying in instalments.

*51% of customers could save up to £75.83. Consumer Intelligence, October 2016


Travel insurance

Christmas is over and the New Year has begun – so naturally for many people, it's a time where holiday planning is high on the agenda. Yet travel insurance often isn't, even though it's a crucial part of your holiday planning, whether you're travelling overseas or staying in the UK.

When seeking out travel insurance, it's important not to assume the cheapest deal is the best one for you.

Although you might think you're getting a great deal, should anything happen and you have to suddenly fork out a hefty excess – that cheap deal might not seem so attractive.

There are travel insurance packages to suit every type of trip, for every type of person. And in every case, you should take out insurance when you book, so that you've got cancellation cover from the word go, just in case you need it.

Comparing policies can help you find cover that is suited to you and your holiday, and still get the best price for your needs.

*Rates were correct at time of writing