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Appointments: It's time to give those leaking finances an MOT.

Byline: Anne Corstorphine

How comfortable would you be driving a car 500 miles per hour knowing that you had a leaky engine and a slow puncture? You just wouldn't do it, would you? And yet that's how many of us drive our financial vehicle.

Whether business or personal, it's probably time for an MOT. Where would you start with your car? Would you go into the boss and ask for a raise because you need a new car? Or would you examine the leaks, make repairs and replace the punctured wheel?

The chances are, if you're the first candidate then you're most likely to be the one who is in debt. When thinking about finance many choose the wrong starting point, considering their income to be toolittle. With an MOT, we explore a different starting place, examining personal attitude to money and discovering why it is that you are always in debt.

So the best place to start is at the bottom.

First of all find the leaks in your finances, and yes this is going to take some effort on your part but it will be worth it. Analyse all expenditure; that means the small stuff as well as the more obvious large expenses such as mortgages, maintenance charges, insurance etc.

On a daily basis write down what you spend. Look at what you have in your wallet or purse today and see how much is left tomorrow and then think about where it has gone.

It's a fact that the more cash we have in our pocket, the more we'll spend, so budget a weekly cash amount to use and make a trip to the bank just once a week rather than getting cash out when your wallet is empty.

Analysing expenditure for a whole month will give you a clear picture of how you are driving your vehicle.

This will allow you to consider putting in place strategies to plug those leaks. What would happen if you went out just three nights a week rather than four. Do you really need to go out of the office for lunch everyday.

On the bigger scale look at the credit cards and rates of borrowing you have. Pay off higher rates of borrowing first with the minimum payment on the lower interest rate cards.

Look at your mortgage, if you have savings in your bank account look out for the new offset mortgages whereby interest earned can be offset against mortgage interest or debt. Consider remortgaging for debt consolidation or major interest savings.

Car insurers and household insurers, all are eager to get your custom and are offering great savings, so see what savings you can make.

Put in place standing orders, or direct debits. Indeed, some companies will give you discounted bills if you pay by direct debit and you can save up to 13 per cent. If you are already financially prudent and save the money for your bills, there is a benefit to holding on to the money. If spending is your problem, work out how much you earn per hour and when shopping ask 'How many hours do I have to work to buy that?'

'Six of the best' to get you going: Analyse expenditure, small and large -the pennies count.

If you are in debt, don't ignore it but write it down and discover the shocking truth, this will give you the base from which to start.

Plug the leaks, consolidate debt, reduce unnecessary expenditure.

Create a monthly budget and keep to it.

Put in place strategies to sup-port your new plan.

Take responsibility, it's you that got you to where you are now and the great thing is it's you that will get you to where you want to be. To find out more about Financial Programming contact
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 10, 2004
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