|Are you one of those people who doesn't open their bank or credit card statements? Do you take out store cards on the spur of the moment? Have you been with the same bank simply because it is less hassle than changing?|
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, fear not confused consumer, help is at hand, with some assistance from a few internet tools.
* Internet tool number one:
** The consumer champion site for personal finance information
Websites such as Fool.com, Fool.co.uk and Moneysavingexpert.com have proved extremely popular with consumers. Fool.com is more geared towards the US market, whilst Fool.co.uk focuses on the UK market. Both have an extremely diverse selection of information from investment and high risk options to personal finance and low risk options. There are extensive discussion boards, newsletter subscriptions, finance calculators and competitions. These sites not only answer your questions, they make you want to ask more.
Fool.com, Fool.co.uk and Moneysavingexpert.com are community based sites and function on consumers exchanging information between themselves, whether that's about passing on recommendations or expressing concerns. The article "Ten Reasons To Fear The Future" by Cliff D'Arcy" on Fool.co.uk is a particularly good introduction to the financial aspects of modern life.
Martin Lewis has almost become a household name in the UK through his website Moneysavingexpert. The outspoken journalist and presenter offers a comprehensive resource on a range of personal finance topics. If you can put up with the cheesey photos of Mr Lewis and his catalogue poses, you will undoubtedly find this site extremely helpful.
* Internet tool number two:
** The price comparison site for personal finance information
Kelkoo, moneynet.co.uk and Lowermybills.com (US) are now commonly exploited by consumers to ensure they are getting the best deal on their purchases. However, it is probably fair to say that more people shop around for clothes and music, than they do for their personal finance products, which is worrying as these cost significantly more.
* Internet tool number three:
** Online banking and account aggregation tools
The internet can be a scary thing and there is still much scaremongering about online security. However your details are often as secure online, as they are offline and providing you choose and hide your password effectively - there should not be a problem with people accessing your confidential information. Choose a password of eight characters or more, preferably replacing some letters with numbers, such "1nternet" or "passw0rd".
Set yourself up with online accounts and you can proactively manage your finances yourself, without waiting for statements through the post or call centre agents to take your query. You can also save yourself bank charges by transferring funds yourself over the internet. Some banks charge large amounts for transferring funds when you can do it for no additional cost at all.
Personal finance doesn't have to be about debt and the efficient co-ordination of funds may save you hundreds of pounds in the long-term.
About the Author
Rachel would be really interested to get feedback on whether anyone actually reads this section.If someone feels like rescuing Rachel from obscurity, she would be grateful for an e-mail out of here.
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla - http://www.cashzilla.co.uk E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org