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Family finance: 10 Dos and don'ts to make your life easier - financially

Making a list and checking it twice is not just confined to Christmas presents. There are times when we need to track back and take stock, and here are tips that are short enough to remember, yet concise enough to stick to:

1> Plan your finances -- don't leave it to chance. You have living costs and a variety of expenses so income must be found to meet all those costs. Plan it.

2> Put two hours in every month to sorting out your money issues.

3> Claim all your tax reliefs and allowances up to the past four years (medical expenses, rent relief, pension relief, bin charges, etc) Text MONEYDOCTOR to 53377 and start the tax-back process.

4> Ensure you have a 'Rainy Day Fund' (three to six months' annual income in an accessible and best interest-bearing account).

5> If you have dependents -- older or younger -- protect them by protecting your life and income. Shop around for the best rates.

6> Make sure you are providing for your retirement outside of the €230.30 weekly State pension you can look forward to at up to age 68 (depending on your age now).

7> Cut down your banking bills -- avoid overdrafts, never have a cheque returned, keep your current account in credit and receive interest rather than pay it.

8> Use the internet for your accounts -- you won't have to visit your bank branch, plus you save on time and petrol!

9> Check and recheck all your interest rates regularly, both for borrowings and savings. They change continually without your knowing.

10> Diversify any surplus cash or savings across the different asset sectors.

1> Do not presume your financial institution is loyal to you -- yesterday you were a prospect, today you are a client.

2> Don't leave your surplus cash in a current account or low interest-bearing deposit account. Maximise your return.

3> Don't exceed overdrafts -- in fact, avoid overdrafts if at all possible.

4> Don't exceed your credit card limit and remember to pay on time. Never take cash on the card and be careful using the card in non-EU countries -- it will cost you.

5> Don't wait for your lender to call you in if you cannot honour a loan -- face it full-on and enter into an agreement. Communicate and negotiate.

6> Don't fall prey to the three reasons we neglect our finances -- apathy, ignorance or lack of time.

7> Don't ignore your responsibilities or core values -- respect for the financial commitments you undertook being right up there, and that includes credit card debt.

8> Don't pay tax needlessly -- know your rights by checking handy websites such as www.citizensinformation.ie.

9> Don't follow the herd -- just because the Jones next door have bought a hybrid car, it doesn't mean you have to.

10> Don't invest in a project if you do not understand what it is you are investing in or it's too good to be true.