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Get your finances in shape without a marathon effort, says Mrs Moneypenny

Do you think you don't have time to sort out your finances? Thinking about money can be daunting, but investing a bit of time can pay dividends.

Here, Mrs Moneypenny, presenter of Channel 4 series Superscrimpers, and author of Mrs Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women and Mrs Moneypenny’s Financial Advice for Independent Women, gives her five tips for healthier finances.

And what's even better is that they don't have to take hours. In fact, some of these could be done quicker than the London Marathon…

Mrs Moneypenny’s top financial tips

  1. Buy a notebook and record all of your financial life in it. Set aside a page for every financial presence in your life – your back account, each credit card, your mortgage (or rent), your mobile phone bill and so on. You need to set aside an hour a week to spend on your own finances. If you think that sounds a lot, then consider how much time you spend worrying about money. The rest of this list is suggestions of things you could do with that hour.
  2. Track down any money that might be yours. There are nearly 900,000 unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth more than £44 million. The oldest unclaimed prize belongs to a man from South Yorkshire who won £25 in 1957! And unlike the Lottery, there is no time claim limit.  Also, there are millions of pounds sitting in forgotten bank accounts, could some of them be yours?
  3. Cutting back on spending often makes us think of that daily coffee out, but in reality the things you are likely to be overspending on will be much more expensive. If you have any of the following: a mobile phone, a gas/electricity bill, car insurance, broadband/tv, contents insurance, or even a mortgage, then you will almost certainly be able to get it cheaper. It just takes time (and an internet connection) to find the best deal. Tackle them one at a time. An hour a week!
  4. Debt costs money. The best way to access better deals on credit is to make sure your credit report (information that the credit reference agencies hold on you) is as accurate as possible. I counsel people to check their credit report annually, and then put right any inaccuracies by writing to the credit reference agency. People usually only bother to get the credit report after being declined for a mortgage or a credit card, much better to check in advance so that you can sort it out if you need to improve your score. Having ensured your credit score is as good as possible, get rid of your most expensive credit cards and apply for cheaper ones instead. Most people don’t even know what interest they are paying on their credit cards – find out, and write it in your notebook.
  5. Finally, pensions. Do you have a workplace pension? Did you used to have and can’t remember where the paperwork is? Look at the Pension Tracing Service . Are you paying money into your workplace pension? Often your employer will match contributions, and if so then you ought to be making some – that is free money you are not getting. Plus the government, up to a limit, gives you back the tax you have paid. New legislation means that everyone will have to, very soon, contribute 8% of their salary every year, and employers are only obliged to contribute 5%, so you might to have to contribute the balance. Find out what your employer plans to do as soon as possible.

This guest post is from Mrs Moneypenny and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service.

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  • Jan Williams / 21 May 2015

    Really like these updates. I like the 'bitesize' approach, much less daunting than a long article!
    Excellent tips to pass on to my clients.

  • Andrew Maxwell / 17 May 2015

    Great advice guidance and tips thanks MA