Make some new year resolutions to get your finances in good shape
YOUR new year financial resolutions for 2012 may well be no more ambitious than resolving to keep your job as the economy limps along, but taking control of your finances should be a priority too, financial experts say.
Even if you are not among the half of those respondents to a recent survey by the Samaritans who said they were worried about losing their jobs, or struggling to find work, you may be among the 68pc of those who are afraid they won't have enough money to live comfortably this year.
So what do the experts recommend doing to take better charge of your money?
Shop around for a better deal
Simple inertia has resulted in thousands of us paying more than we really need to on various household services.
"Set aside one day in January to sit down with your bank statements and review every regular outgoing," says Liam Ferguson, of financial advisers and brokers Ferguson and Associates.
"Make a list of all your regular debits on your account and work through each one methodically to see if you could be getting a better deal."
Peter Tompkins, of financial coaching firm My Financial Window, says you should never expect your existing provider to offer the best price.
"Always get quotes from other providers, and aim for three good quotes."
By all means switch, but also rethink what you really need.
"As well as shopping for the best deal, we must all do more to get to the bottom of how efficiently we spend our money," says Frank Conway of financial advisers Moneycoach.
"Not enough people analyse the line item components of their insurance policies, such as home, motor and health."
Clear bad debt immediately
Credit cards can help fuel the accumulation of what Bob Quinn, of financial advisers Moneyadvisor, calls 'bad debt', which he classifies as frivolous spending.
To help clear this debt, Mr Quinn suggests a 'sniper' approach -- identifying your most expensive debt first, and focus on clearing that before moving on to others.
Getting friendly with your local credit union may also be a useful strategy, while day-to day cashflow issues can be resolved simply by building up a rainy-day fund.
Open a fixed-term deposit account
"Rates are unlikely to go up in the short term and if your bank is covered by the ELG [the bank guarantee] scheme, fixing your rate may buy you an extension if the ELG scheme is withdrawn," says Mr Ferguson.
Consider financial product alternatives
When it comes to financial products that are desirable but not essential, such as life insurance, Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers suggests a couple of ways to save.
"I think that paying your life cover annually is a simple way to save money, and if you have non-mortgage life cover find out if you can issue it as a 'pension term assurance' which means you get tax relief on it -- you don't even have to have a pension to do that," he says.
Irish Independent Supplement