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Finances need fine-tuning? Get a money MOT

If your budget is stopping you doing what you want, maybe it's time to get a money MOT and start fixing your finances.

Making sure your incomings and outgoings are finely tuned will help free up more cash and give you greater peace of mind.

Here are four steps to help you take better control of your finances and help plan for your future.

1. Get your budget in working order

Take a good look at your budget.

Write down what you have going out in terms of bills, rent, mortgage and other expenses, and what you have coming in.

Use our Budget planner to help with the sums.

2. Know what you owe

If you have debts, it’s important to keep them in check. Are you up to date with payments?

Can you use any of your monthly income to pay off more debts?

Use our Cut-back calculator to see what cash you could find from your budget.

If you don’t have debts, you could look to put aside money for a savings pot. You’ll be surprised how fast your savings will grow - £3 a day for a month means you will have almost £100. And if you save for a year, you will have more than £1,000.

3. Are you getting the best deals?

Now you’ve got a clear picture of finances and your budget's had a spruce up, have a look at where you could make some more savings. Are you sure your utility providers are offering the best deals? If you shop around, there could be some serious savings to be made – especially on energy and broadband.

Check our guide Save money on your gas and electricity bills.

4. Check your credit report

If you are thinking of remortgaging or taking out a loan to reorganise your debts, it would be worth checking your credit report.

These provide a detailed account of your credit history which lenders use to determine whether or not to lend to you, and at what rate.

Research by the Money Advice Service shows two thirds of UK adults have not checked their report in the past five years, which means they may not be in the best position to get credit on things from mortgages to mobile phones.

Checking your report means you can correct any errors but also take steps to improve it, like making sure you are on the electoral register - so it's a good idea to check it regularly, even if you're not immediately looking for credit.

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  • cap white / 18 February 2015

    An MOT is for ensuring that a car meets a minimum safety standard, it does not really consider anything else.

    I think the writer of the article really means to use an analogy of a car service that makes sure everything is working to the proper standard?

  • Mrs.Lawrence / 8 February 2015

    I am 82 years old and am spending more per month than \i am getting in. Therefore my savings are getting smaller all the time.Any advice please>

  • Ombani Stanley Netsharotha / 5 February 2015

    Your guides is so important, without money advice service we cant make it. I am originated at south africa, one of the country which have millions of people at credit baraeu. I am also sunk deep on credits, and you know i just take loans for no apparent reason, lack of financial discipline is the main problem and the worst part of it is because financial provider just provide with cash but the is no money or financial adviser. Their issue is to lend money and make profit. I wish i can obtain some skills and advice people in defferent areas about money so that i can save thousands of people.

  • christiana kay clark / 5 February 2015

    where would find out for help we get our pays every28 dys so we are gettingcharges off bank as the direct debits are not getting payed because of every 28 dys we are getting charges i need help

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    Admin: Hi Christiana, if you call our contact centre, they'll be able to provide free and impartial money advice. Go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk for the link to webchat or call us on 0300 500 5000.