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Barnstaple Financial Advisors

Paid Links:

Ocean Finance - T: 0800 916 9186 M: 03303031234
Philip J Milton & Company Plc, 17 Joy St, 01271 344300 Click Here

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Devonshire Asset Management, 16 Silver St Tel: 01271 327500
Irvine Financial Srvs, Bridgewater Hse, The Square Tel: 01271 323689
Lyn Financial Services, 20 Litchdon Street Tel: 01271 321444
SouthWest Financial Planning, 122 Boutport St Tel: 01271 325692
Phd Financial Mgment, 1st Floor, 17 Cross St Tel: 01271 379006

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Five Ways To Beat The Credit Crunch

From Wall Street to our high streets
Even if you own no stake in the financial firms floored by today’s news, you could still lose out in future. That’s because plunging asset prices have wiped out tens of billions of the banks’ spare capital, leaving them unable or unwilling to lend to any but the most credit-worthy individuals and firms. Hence, as banks reduce their leverage (borrowing heavily in order to make greater but riskier returns), I expect the credit crunch to worsen in the weeks and months to come.

This will cause two immediate problems for hard-pressed borrowers. First, the cost of credit will rise: we’ve already had interest-rate rises on credit cards, mortgages, personal loans and overdrafts. Second, the availability of credit will fall further, making it difficult to borrow more or refinance existing borrowings.

It’s time to turn the tanker around...
It’s quite clear that the next leg of the credit crunch -- fuelled by missed payments and bad debts -- will be downwards. Hence, even if you have already taken some steps towards improving your financial health, it makes good sense to batten down the hatches in case the hurricane strikes. Here are five simple ways to improve your household finances, starting today:

1. Be better at budgeting
The people most at risk during downturns are those who, knowingly or unwittingly, live well beyond their means. Of course, constantly spending more than you earn is a recipe for financial ruin. However, in recent years, raised consumer confidence (bolstered by seemingly ever-rising house prices) has masked Britain’s spendthrift ways. Thus, it’s vital to build a strong foundation to your personal finances by learning how to budget.

2. Massage your mortgage
With over 11.8 million mortgages in the UK, close to half of all UK households have a hefty debt to service every month. Indeed, the interest alone on our £1,218 billion of home loans exceeds £6 billion a month.

Of course, as with all debts, the secret to a happy home loan is to minimise how much you pay in interest and fees. By remortgaging, you can try to trim your monthly repayments down to size.

3. Bash your borrowing
On top of mortgages, we’ve also built up an impressive £231 billion in non-mortgage debt, such as credit and store cards, car and personal loans, and overdrafts.

To avoid paying excessive rates of interest and sky-high fines for unauthorised borrowing, it makes sense to tidy up your existing borrowing. For example, by transferring your card debts to a credit card offering 0% balance transfers, you can freeze interest until as far ahead as January 2010.

4. Prune your premiums
Another good habit to adopt is to avoid automatically renewing your insurance policies. In other words, when your yearly renewal notice arrives, don’t just lazily accept your insurer’s latest premium hike. Instead, shop around in order to find quality quotes for car, home, life and travel insurance. Your aim is to get the same or better cover for less cash and, thanks to the wonders of the Web, this is quicker and easier than it’s ever been.

5. Strengthen your savings
Once you’ve knocked your finances into reasonable shape, put some effort into boosting your savings. By earning more interest and avoiding tax on it, you can raise the returns from your spare cash.

Lastly, by getting to grips with your day-to-day finances, you can limit the impact of any economic slump and, therefore, reduce your risk of ruin. What’s more, it should help you to sleep easier at night!

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