Managing Your Finances
Keeping Track of Your Money
Filing Your Papers
• Set aside a corner of your home for house and money management. It could be the shelf where you keep a series of box files, a desk bought for the purpose, or a specially designed household organiser which you can buy in larger stationery shops. It might be worth buying a small filing cabinet to store your paperwork.
• List the documents and records which you think you need to keep. The list will probably be long, and is likely to include such things as passports, insurance documents, bank statements, guarantees, credit card and cash machine receipts, deeds to your house and pension plan documents. Mark on each how long to keep it.
• Throw away papers when you no longer need them. This can be more difficult than you might think, especially if you are one of nature’s hoarders.
Just ask yourself, ‘Is there any reason to keep them? Will I ever need them again?’
Using credit or cash cards
Remembering your PIN
Some cards allow you to alter your PIN the first time you use it. Think of a number you could use for all your cards which you will remember, but no thief could guess from the contents of your handbag or wallet.
Never reveal your PIN to anyone, not even members of your own family, and never ask anyone to get cash out of a machine for you.
Dealing with card fraud
You are liable for up to £50 of any loss on a credit card until you have reported the card lost or stolen. The credit card company pays any loss after that.
With debit cards and cash machine cards, banks and building societies generally follow the same policy, although they can make you liable for any loss if they think you used your card irresponsibly — if you left it lying around, and a member of your family used it to withdraw money, for example, or if you failed to destroy your PIN.
Charge card or credit card?
There were originally two main charge cards, American Express and Diners Club, both of which give you unlimited credit but only for a very short time — charge cards must be cleared at the end of each month. There is always a yearly fee as well.
Credit cards offer extended credit up to your personal limit (although extended credit is generally very expensive and should only be used in the short term) and many are still issued free of service charge.
How many credit cards can you have?
As many as you like. But for security reasons, and so you’re not tempted to spend too much, it’s probably wise to have no more than two. Check the credit card terms, as they do have varying features. VISA and ACCESS are the principal credit cards.
Used instead of cheques, a Switch card deducts money direct from your current account. It may be incorporated in a bank card.
Make your own financial directory
• Include the names, addresses, telephone numbers and account numbers of all bank and building society accounts.
• List details of any personal advisers, such as solicitors, accountants, stockbrokers or insurance brokers.
• List all pension plans and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the managers and/or trustees. Note the contract number, amount invested, when you entered the scheme and when you retire.
• Do the same for any life insurance or sickness insurance policies, noting when premiums are due.
• List other insurance policies, such as buildings, contents and car insurance, the sum insured and when premiums are due.
• Note the numbers of any company share, unit trust or investment trust certificates, the price you paid for them, plus any expenses. Don’t forget to list the dividends and when you expect to receive them.
• Watch out for, and make a special note of, any special helplines — for reporting lost or stolen cards, for instance.