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Fergus will be back on the John Beattie Show on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday just after the 1pm news with some great tips to help organise your money and understand your consumer rights. This week he'll be looking at the best way to spring clean your finances at the beginning of a new tax year. Catch up on previous shows here

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Are you comparing apples with oranges?

We’re using price comparison websites more than ever before, to such an extent that many of us use them to the exclusion of any other means of finding a good deal across a whole range of things that we spend money on. We use them to check out the best car insurance and house insurance as well as making sure we’re getting a good deal from our gas and electricity supplier. Increasingly we’re using them instead of a traditional broker to source life insurance and critical illness cover. And we also use them to make sure we’re not paying over the odds for the broadband and mobile phone contracts that we use.

But not all comparison sites include the costs of every single company available and so it’s not always the case that you know for certain that there aren’t any better deals out there if you only look at once comparison site before you buy.

And not every comparison site shows the costs of different options in exactly the same way so it can be difficult to know whether you are comparing different options on a real like-for-like basis.

It’s true that these sites make it easy to see what options are available when we go in search of a new insurance policy or a better deal for our electricity. But we should be wary when using them, and use them as a tool to help us make a decision rather that the definitive answer in every search that we carry out.

Make sure that you take a look at more than one comparison site so that you are aware of variations and options that might be on one site but not another.

Make sure that you don’t just rely on the headline information and summary that is on the comparison site itself.  Click on to the link to the individual provider’s site, or go direct to the site in another window, so that you can have a look at the policy or deal that you are going to buy in more detail and check things like excesses and exclusions.

It’s not always easy to find the small print when doing a search on a comparison site so it is really important to make sure that you have a complete picture of the product, policy or agreement that you are looking at so that you can be sure that it is absolutely suitable for you before you click ‘buy’.

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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.

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