Say goodbye to buy now, pay later – get saving!
The days of ‘buy now, pay later’ are pretty much over. We can’t be so sure about how safe our incomes are, so saving for holidays, Christmas and emergency purchases is the best way forward.
- Shop around. Savings should make you money, find the account PAYING YOU the best interest.
- Will you need emergency access to your savings? The highest interest accounts require you to give lots of notice before withdrawing money, or you’ll lose a lot of interest, or even pay a penalty.
- To build up your savings, set yourself a target. Divide the target by the number of weeks or months you’ll add in money and make sure you never add less. You’ll be surprised how quickly it grows. (The Government’s Money Advice Service has an online savings calculator to show you.)
- Check out the Post Office. Look at interest rates and schemes like Premium Bonds, which are run like a lottery that pays out little wins but where you can cash in your original ‘stake’ at any time.
- Find out what local community savings schemes there are, such as credit unions or community enterprises like My Home Finance. Many offer better terms on loans once you’re a saver with them. See our Credit Unions page.
- Never sign up to a scheme where you pay in installments to save up for goods in a catalogue or online if it means you can’t shop around for the best prices later. If you get vouchers at the end or have to buy from the scheme, check you can’t get better deals elsewhere. We checked the prices offered by Park Christmas Savings and found, for example at the time of writing, a Harry Potter DVD box set (8 DVDs). Park’s price: £54.99; Amazon price: £22.25.
- Avoid putting your money in an account or scheme that doesn’t pay you interest.
- If you have some spare money, there’s no point leaving it in a current account. These are designed to have transactions in and out all the time, and they usually don’t pay interest. Ask about a savings or deposit account.
- Steer clear if your savings won’t be protected by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme), which protects up to £75,000 of savings. If you have more than that, open another account elsewhere to keep all your money covered.
- Don’t be afraid to get advice, but check you don’t pay for it out of your own money (some advisors will work for free or are paid by the companies you save with). If you’re more confident and have a bit more to put by, talk to someone about cash ISAs and other investments that pay a bigger return tax-free. They can tie up your money so check the small print.
- When looking for further advice, the Government’s Money Advice Service website is a great place to start.
- Compare rates and, be careful, the terms (like how long it’s locked in) at MoneySupermarket.com
- Advice on savings and comparisons by uSwitch.