Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 14:48 UK

Personal finance tips for the recession

Cash on receipts
There are lots of ways of saving money during the recession

A string of personal finance experts are attending the BBC's Money Matters Roadshow.

Here are some of their key tips for consumers in the current economic climate, listed below under a wide range of topics that affect everyone's financial health.

Most suggest that good planning is key to healthy finances.

SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS

Christine Ross

Christine Ross, group head of financial planning at SG Hambros Bank -

Make use of as many tax saving allowances as possible. Many people invest in potentially riskier investments in the hope of a higher return while a safer way to achieve a better return is to reduce the amount of tax that is paid

Jim McLatchie

Jim McLatchie, wealth advisers Towry Law -

The best way to manage investment risk in these volatile markets is through asset diversification. Those who hold a wide range of investments will have a much smoother journey than those who are too reliant on stock markets.

If your shares or unit trust have reduced in value - have you considered booking the loss? This could be carried forward to offset against a future gain and thereby save tax

Graham Hooper

Graham Hooper, head of marketing at Bestinvest -

Anyone investing in the stock market right now - and the over 50s may be tempted to use their new Isa allowance - should consider phasing their money in over the next six or 12 months, rather investing all in one go.

That way, they do not miss out if the markets carry on going up; but if markets retreat, they pick up cheaper asset prices. An each way bet on the direction of the stock market if you like, rather than relying on the only way forward being up

Morven Whyte

Morven Whyte, Redmayne Bentley -

Anyone with surplus monthly income should set up a direct debit savings scheme to buy shares in an International Investment Trust. This will build up a nest egg for the future that will keep pace with inflation, without having to worry about excessive costs or the stock markets volatility

DEBTS

Joe Glancy

Joe Glancy, Money Advice co-ordinator at Falkirk Citizen's Advice Bureau -

Contact your creditors both secured and unsecured as soon as you realize there is a problem to keep them up to date with your situation. You are more likely to get help and support from your creditors if they know what is happening

Lynne Jones

Lynne Jones, mentor at National Debtline -

As soon as you realise there is a problem, seek free and independent advice from a reputable organisation as friends and family do not always know best. It is never too early, or too late, to seek advice

BENEFITS

Lee Healey

Lee Healey, benefits specialist, Income Max -

A benefit entitlement check can help you understand your entitlement and establish if you are missing out on any benefits and tax credits. To get a free benefit entitlement check contact your local Citizens Advice or independent welfare rights advice service and speak to an experienced benefits adviser. The adviser will look at your income, savings and circumstances and help work out your correct entitlement


PENSIONS

Malcolm McLean

Malcolm McLean, chief executive, Pensions Advisory Service -

Check your pension plan at regular intervals to make sure you are on course to secure the level of income you need for your retirement. Never be afraid of asking questions about your investments and get advice as necessary. Remember its your money and your future well-being that is at stake

TAX

John Whiting

John Whiting, Tax Policy Director, The Chartered Institute of Taxation -

Take a proper interest in tax - make sure you have the personal allowances you should have (everyone has one, higher for aged over 65), that you claim what you can (eg tax credits, 10% savings rate), that you use the tax breaks you can (eg Capital Gains Tax annual exemption, pensions contributions) and that you keep up to date (tax returns in on time and watch out for changes that need action, eg tax credits, changing/losing jobs)

Alan Barr

Alan Barr, partner at Brodies solicitors -

Make sure you have made a Will which deals with all of your circumstances - personal, family and financial - and while you are about it, think about having a Power of Attorney in place as well

Alex Stewart

Alex Stewart, Tax Help for Older People -

Taxpayers have to minimise their tax and maximise their income by checking/ensuring that they get all personal allowances which they are due, that their tax codes are right, that they use legal tax havens such as Isas, that they make sure they reclaim any overpaid tax such as the 10% savings band, that they have R85s [tax-free interest on savings] in place, that savings are divided in a tax beneficial way between spouses/partners and in short they only pay the right amount of tax due based on their personal circumstances no more/no less

MORTGAGES

David Hollingworth of London & Country

David Hollingworth, London and Country Mortgages -

Save as large a deposit as possible. Those who can muster a large deposit of 25% or more of the property value will find they have a much better choice of mortgage deal and the interest rates on offer will be far better than for those with a smaller deposit


The opinions expressed are those of the authors and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.



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