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Fergus will be back on BBC on Wednesday this week on the John Beattie Show on BBC Radio Scotland just after the 1pm News with some great tips to help organise your money and understand your consumer rights. Catch up on previous shows here

Moneysucks for musicians

Have a look at the first part of our new series on how musicians can best maximise and protect their income from their own words and music.

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5 ways to spend wisely

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the difference. Here are 5 simple things you can do regularly to make sure you’re making the best use of your money.

 

Shopping

We waste millions of pounds every year buying food that we later throw out so make this year the year you decide to be clever when you shop. When you go into a supermarket its main aim is to get you to spend as much as possible. Look for bargains where possible but it’s only a bargain if you needed to buy it in the first place so be aware of buying things just because they are marked down, or buying three for the price of two when the reality is that you’ll only use one. If the supermarket runs a loyalty scheme of some sort then check out what it’s really worth and use it.

 

Banking

There’s more chance of us changing our partner than our bank account and thousands of us continue to use bank accounts that don’t do the things we need them to do, and may even charge us for not doing what we need. We leave money lying around in accounts that don’t pay any interest and we borrow money from lenders that charge us too much interest. Check the cost of going into overdraft, and whether you have a free overdraft buffer. Check the charges if you go overdrawn without asking, and the cost of debits and other payments being returned unpaid. If you don’t ever go into overdraft then make sure that you are being paid interest on any positive balance. And if you are paying for a packaged account make sure that the services the account provides are worth paying for.

 

Insurance

We all need insurance, whether we like it or not. Car insurance, house insurance and life assurance make up a significant proportion of most families budgets yet we regularly renew without checking whether we can find cheaper premiums. And we often buy cover that we don’t need, or that we already have elsewhere – for example you should check whether your bank provides adequate travel insurance before buying separate cover. And remember that although price is importance you shouldn’t always buy the cheapest you find in case it doesn’t provide the cover that you really need.

 

Phones and Computers

Most of us now use mobile phones as much more than phones, and many of us use them in place of a landline. So it is really important to look at the way you pay for all the communication devices you use in the house, and when you’re out and about, to make sure that the package you have is the one that suits you best. When looking for a good broadband deal do a broadband speed check before accepting headline speeds from the company. Make sure that you understand the rules that determine usage – does ‘unlimited’ really mean no limit. Don’t look at the broadband cost in isolation, look at the cost of line rental and phone calls as well.

 

Utilities

The energy companies have been getting a hard time recently, and rightly so, as they continually hike the price of the gas and electricity that we all need to heat our homes. There’s nothing we can do about that, apart from making sure that we have the best deal that we can get for the gas and electricity we use. That might mean using a different company for your gas and electricity – don’t assume that one will always be best value for both. And look at other ways you can save every month. Can you pay by direct debit and if you do what discount will you get. Check if you are in credit regularly and ask for the money back if you are.

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Facebook and Twitter have long been full of posts and tweets telling us that we don't need to worry, or pay, if we get stung with 'parking charge notices' from private companies. According to a recent Scottish judgement we might have to think again on this issue.
60 Second Tips

In a brand new series listen to and watch Fergus Muirhead here as he explains common money and consumer issues in less than one minute.
This series will build up over the next few months into a valuable library of money and consumer tips, all delivered in a simple and straightforward way.