Spring clean your finances: the ultimate guide

cleaning

It's that time of year again to get your financial affairs in order.

Spring has arrived - even  though it may be hard to believe - and it's once again time to sit down and get your finances in order. 

Here are a few tips on giving your personal finances a thorough spring clean:

Cancel credit cards that you haven't used in while. You might not realise this, but even having a credit card that you never use can negatively impact your credit rating.

This is because lenders look at the fact that you haven't used the plastic at all, and therefore are unlikely to make them any money.

Dormant debits: Ask your bank for a list of your direct debits and standing orders. You might be making out payments for goods and services you are no longer using.

If you decide to cancel any just make sure that you let the particular business know first, this will save you having to shell out for penalties from either the business or your bank.

Cancel unused contracts. Did you sign up to a gym in January? Or get a subscription for that star-gazing magazine because it was on promotion and you always fancied yourself as an astro-boff...?

If you know there is something you've signed up to that is essentially money down the drain like unused gym memberships or store membership cards, cancel it now. Put the money towards something that you will actually appreciate, or maybe stick in an ISA.

Bundle packages: get a package deal on your TV, broadband and phone line. They are now the cheapest they have been and will help simplify your outgoings into one low cost deal. Shop around as with any other financial product.

• Call up your mobile phone service provider. If you've been a loyal customer to one particular network then calling up to see if they can give you a better deal could prove beneficial. Remember that you will be a valued customer, and don't go too outrageous with requests.

Utilities: unless you are locked into a deal or plan, make an effort to properly review your usage on gas or electricity. Take a look at areas where you can save energy to cut down costs and see if there are any better plans you can get on.

Energy consumes nearly 50% of the average household's weekly budget, so being able to make cuts here will prove beneficial. Also consider a water meter if there are more rooms than people in your home.

• Think ISA - yes, you're probably sick of hearing about Individual Savings Accounts, but these fantastic tax wrappers are worth considering. They are the best way to save without the taxman getting a slice of the action. 

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