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Last Updated: Monday, 16 July 2007, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Making the most of your money
Is money tight? Are you in debt?

Our tips should help you to make the most of your money.

ALWAYS SHOP AROUND

Financial products and services

Always compare product features and value for money, for example by using the comparative tables on the website of the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

These cover a selection of financial products and there is also a lot of other helpful information.

You can also compare products, including credit cards and loans, at a number of other comparison websites.

Use these sites to help you review the cost of your existing loans and credit.

Could you get a better deal by switching? Don't forget to take into account any charges for paying off your current borrowing early.

Utility bills and other purchases

Check regularly that you are not paying more than you need to.

Visit the website of consumer watchdog Energywatch for a list of companies approved to offer advice about switching fuel supplier.

Alternatively, use an internet search engine to find sites that compare fuel prices.

And for many other purchases "best buy" websites can help you find the best deal.

  • Consumer Direct is a telephone and online consumer advice service, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry.

    It provides clear, practical advice to help consumers sort out problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods or services.

  • Energywatch - consumer watchdog for the UK's gas and electricity industries.

  • Trading Standards - details of your local trading standards service can be found in your local telephone directory.

  • Financial Services Authority (FSA) - regulator and watchdog of the financial services industry.

    REDUCING YOUR SPENDING

    If you need to cut back your spending, look for areas where you're confident you can really make savings.

    Set yourself targets and stick to them. But be realistic.

    BENEFITS AND TAX CREDITS

    You may be entitled to more benefits and tax credits than you are claiming.

    Check with:

  • HM Revenue & Customs - for tax credits and most child-related benefits

  • Your local authority - for housing benefit and council tax benefit

  • Jobcentre Plus - other state benefits if you are of working age

  • The Pension Service - other state benefits if you are over state pension age

  • Direct.gov - for information from various government departments

  • Connexions - offers advice to young people between the ages of 13 to 19

  • Gingerbread - helps single parents

  • One Parent Families

  • One Parent Families Scotland

  • Age Concern - provides support for older people

  • Low Incomes Tax Reform Group - tax help for those on low incomes






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