You don’t have to be a Scrooge this Christmas to save money. Financial planning isn’t the same as financial skimping and with just a little time spent on the internet, you can ensure you’re getting the best deal on all of your personal finances, as well as your shopping. It is interesting that many of us will shop around for insurance and to a certain extent for our Christmas shopping, but with products that demand long term accountability we tend to be more passive. For example, we may choose to shop at Tesco instead of Waitrose to save money and we buy Value instead Finest, but when we are paying more than we have to on credit cards and loans – apparently we’re more than happy to stay put.
The lack of interest in managing our personal finances has more serious consequences though and in its October report, Credit Action, a national debt education charity, informed that:
* 15% of 18-24 year olds thought an ISA was an iPod accessory
* 10% of 18-24 year olds thought an ISA was an energy drink
* Almost 80% of people surveyed did not associate APR with interest rate
An ISA represents an Individual Savings Account.
Whilst we are quick enough to apply for credit, we’re quite slow in effectively managing our borrowing, but it’s not as if the tools aren’t there to help us. Moneynet and Moneyfacts, for example, provide price comparison research for loans (http://www.moneynet.co.uk/loans/index.shtml ) and credit cards. Moneynet additionally offers a tool to help you manage your finances online – securely, and both sites have published a series of product guides to help consumers make sense of their finances.
The increase in young people entering higher education – and then leaving with debt has also provoked many financial institute companies to review their product portfolio, targeting graduates who want to get one foot on the property ladder and the other foot on the career ladder. Barclays for example, offers several graduate products on its loans page (http://www.barclays.co.uk/loans-index ), including career development personal loans, professional studies personal loan and a graduate personal loan.
Whilst young people may not be saving, they do tend to be more adept at using the internet for online shopping. Not only does shopping online often save you money, it’s also more convenient. Without moving from your home, you can do all of your Christmas shopping in one session. Whether you’re looking for the latest Sony Ericsson 3G mobile (http://www.sonyericsson.com), an engraved iPod from Apple (http://www.apple.com/ipod/), or even a classic piece of jewellery from H Samuel (http://www.hsamuel.co.uk/webstore/jewellery.do ) – it’s all online. And whether you’re stocking up from Tesco (http://www.tesco.com or going for something a bit more upmarket like a Christmas hamper (http://www.christmashamper.com/), the internet allows you to order exactly what you want and get it delivered to your door.
If you’re new to shopping and banking online, moneynet offers a comprehensive guide to personal finance at Christmas (http://www.moneynet.co.uk/christmas-savings-guide/index. shtml) and sites such as Kelkoo and Ciao will give you a head start to begin finding the best price for your Christmas shopping. Famous online brands like Amazon and eBay will also offer you an extensive range of conventional and less conventional Christmas choices at discounted prices.
Shopping online is now as secure as high street shopping and given that the internet is open 24 / 7, you can now shop whilst the kids are in bed.
Rachel writes for a variety of online publications, including her own personal finance blog Cashzilla.