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Overview

Being good with money is about getting into good habits and understanding the choices you make.  Fully updated to cover the latest financial trends and developments, this book gives you the confidence to plot where your money goes, to know your limits, and to choose the right financial products for a wealthier future.
It will help you learn how to analyse your financial situation, isolate problem areas, properly structure your debt, investments and retirement plans, and adopt good money habits whatever your age or financial situation. Once you’ve sorted out your finances you’ll get much more pleasure from the money you spend and the money you save.

Discover how to:
•  Make your salary go further •  Set financial goals and reach them •  Get out of debt •  Start an investment portfolio •  Prepare for the unexpected  
About the author
Melanie Bien is a Director at Savills Private Finance and is the former personal finance editor for the Independent on Sunday. She has been writing about property and personal finance for a variety of national newspapers, magazines and websites for over a decade.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470695159
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author


Melanie Bien is a leading personal finance correspondent and a Director of Savills Private Finance. She is also the author of Buying & Selling a Home For Dummies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
What You’re Not to Read
Foolish Assumptions 
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: Organising Your Finances
Part II: Dealing with Debt
Part III: Building Up Savings and Investments 
Part IV: Taking Care of the Future
Part V: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Organising Your Finances
Chapter 1: Exploring the Basics                       
Looking at the Benefits of Being on Top of Your Finances 
Pondering Money Matters 
Working out how much money you have 
Calculating your debts
Clearing Your Debt – and Starting to Save
Establishing Your Financial Goals
Assessing how much risk you’re happy with
Planning for retirement
Taking Advantage of the Tax Breaks on Saving and Investing
Using a Financial Adviser
Chapter 2: Taking Stock of Your Financial Goals and Seeking Advice                             
Drawing Up a Budget
Establishing Your Goals
Prioritising your debts
Prioritising your goals
Seeking Advice to Help Realise Your Financial Goal
Considering the benefits
Finding out key facts
Considering Advisers
Being truly independent
Taking a more limited approach
Getting to Grips with Qualifications
Becoming advanced
Looking beyond bits of paper
Paying for Advice
Forking out a fee
Going with commission
Combining fees and commission
Going It Alone
Chapter 3: Choosing the Best Current Account for You                                 
Explaining How Current Accounts Work
Noting interest and taxes
Considering safety first
Paying the charges
Maintaining the ideal balance
Finding the Best Current Account
Gaining access
Weighing balances
Accruing interest
Viewing overdrafts
Switching Your Current Account
Completing the application form
Obtaining a list of direct debits
Handling the changeover period 
Chapter 4: Guarding Against the Unknown: Insurance                       
Arranging Cover
Deciding what insurance you need
Disclosing information to the insurer
Shopping around for insurance
Reading the policy carefully
Deciding on the excess
Making a comeback if things go wrong
Cutting costs – without skimping on cover
Handling Health and Protection
Insuring your life
Protecting your income
Covering critical illness
Preparing for accident, sickness, and unemployment
Purchasing private medical insurance
Covering Your Home and Belongings
Safeguarding your home
Taking care of contents insurance
Making sure of your car
Travelling under cover
Part II: Dealing with Debt
Chapter 5: Seeing Red: Tackling Your Overdraft     
Understanding How Overdrafts Work
Requesting permission
Calculating interest
Looking at fees
Deciding Whether an Overdraft Really Is the Answer
Choosing a Current Account for Its Overdraft
Fee-free buffers
Introductory offers
Switching Current Accounts When You
Have an Overdraft
Reducing Your Overdraft
Chapter 6: Flexing the Plastic: Choosing a Credit Card                            
Understanding How Credit Cards Work 
Calculating interest
Figuring out credit limits 
Making the minimum payment
Finding Low Rates
Sourcing good introductory rates
Pursuing low lifetime balances
Enjoying the Perks of Clearing Your Balance Every Month
Getting cashback
Earning loyalty points and Air Miles
Going for the added extras
Buying for charity and affinity group
Avoiding Certain Credit Card Activities
Paying annual charges
Withdrawing cash
Buying credit card protection
Protecting Your Purchases
Considering Your Credit Rating
Working with credit scoring
Correcting mistakes on your file
Failing credit scoring
Chapter 7: Navigating Personal Loans                 
Figuring Out When a Loan Makes Perfect Sense
Deciding When a Loan Is Not a Good Idea
Understanding How Loans Work
Taking out unsecured versus secured loans
Deciding on the term
Working out the interest
Calculating the total cost
Watching out for early redemption penalties 
Aiming for flexibility
Finding the Best Personal Loan
Applying for a loan
Coping with a poor (or no) credit history
Avoiding Payment Protection Insurance
Working out the cost
Checking the small print
Deciding whether you need cover
Taking Action If You Are Struggling with Repayments
Chapter 8: Avoiding Credit Nasties and Getting Out of Debt                        
Handling Store Cards Smartly
Signing up for store cards
Paying extortionate rates of interest
Making store cards work for you
Clearing store card debt
Avoiding Debt Consolidation Firms
Consolidating debts into one loan
Looking at high rates and arrangement fees
Steering Clear of Loan Sharks
Escaping the Debt Trap
Prioritising your debts
Working out your budget
Making savings work harder
Juggling your mortgage
Replacing the plastic
Contacting your creditors
Going bankrupt
Seeking free advice
Part III: Building Up Savings and Investments
Chapter 9: Saving for a Rainy Day                   
Dealing with an Emergency
Looking at Savings Strengths 
Making sure your money is easily accessible
Minimising risk
Deciding How Much You Need to Save
Finding the Best Savings Account
Saving with a monthly account
Opting for a cash individual savings account
Watching out for notice periods
Considering the impact of bonuses
Realising the advantage of tiered rates
Fixing the rate and the term
Offsetting your savings
Shopping Around for the Best Deal
Logging on
Telephoning and posting
Accessing savings via a branch
Safeguarding Your Savings
Chapter 10: Making the Most of Tax-Free Savings and Investments 
Opting for an Individual Savings Account
Contributing to ISAs
Understanding ISAs
Deciding on your ISA investments
Selecting your own ISA
Transferring your ISA
Choosing National Savings Certificates
Exploring Venture Capital Trusts
Chapter 11: Building Up an Investment Portfolio    
Planning Your Strategy
Understanding Charges
Evaluating Your Risk Level
Taking a cautious approach
Taking the middle road
Getting adventurous
Balancing Your Investment Portfolio
Covering the basics 
Understanding the underlying investments
Reviewing your holdings
Ditching poorly performing funds
Getting to Grips with Bonds
Understanding how bonds work
Working out government bonds
Opting for corporate bonds
Building Up a Share Portfolio
Minimising risk
Maximising returns
Chapter 12: Finding Safety in Numbers with Collective Funds                          
Pooling Your Investments
Looking at the advantages of pooled investments
Losing out by pooling
Working out the cost 
Jumping into Different Pools
Understanding unit trusts
Getting to grips with Oeics
Knowing how investment trusts work
Making Sense of With-Profits Investment Bonds
Buying Corporate Bond Funds
Choosing Exchange Traded Funds
Joining a Pool
Putting past performance in its place
Cutting costs
Being certain of your investment aims
Checking authorisation
Drip-feeding your contributions
Monitoring your investments
Taxing your returns
Chapter 13: DIY Investing: Opting for Shares         
Investing Basics
Understanding the process
Being aware of the risks involved
Selecting Your Shares
Deciding on growth or income
Spreading your risk
Picking more exotic investments
Choosing a Broker
Knowing you’re protected
Deciding what service you need
Buying and Selling Shares
Holding Your Shares
Looking Forward to Returns
Generating dividends
Understanding charges
Paying duty
Keeping Track of Your Shares
Chapter 14: Safe as Houses: Choosing a Mortgage  
Working Out How Much You Can Afford to Borrow
Multiplying your income
Coping without a deposit
Calculating How Much Cash You Need
Beyond the Price
Looking out for the lender’s fee
Paying a mortgage broker
Commissioning a lender’s valuation and survey
Settling legal fees
Sending in your stamp duty
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo: Choosing
the Right Mortgage
Understanding repayment loans
Going interest-only
Combining repayment with interest-only
Understanding Rates
Avoiding the standard variable rate
Opting for a fix
Tracking the base rate
Plumping for a discount
Checking out capped rates
Offsetting your mortgage
Cashing in on a cashback mortgage
Finding the Best Mortgage
Seeking advice
Going online
Avoiding Unnecessary Costs
Watching out for HLC
Escaping early redemption penalties
Sidestepping compulsory insurance
Part IV: Taking Care of the Future
Chapter 15: Planning for Retirement and Beyond    
Making Some Vital Decisions about Retirement
Planning your retirement age
Calculating how much income you need to live (and play)
Working out your current position
Starting saving
Reviewing your plan
Looking at the Big Pension Picture
Coping on the state pension – forget about it!
Building up the state second pension
Getting credit for your pension and other benefits
Supplementing the State Scheme with a Personal Pension
Taking advantage of the tax breaks
Locking away your cash
Guaranteeing an income
Mixing and Matching – Alternatives to Pensions
Investing in bricks and mortar
Utilising individual savings accounts
Where There’s a Will, the Family Know
Where They Stand
Delaying writing a will is unwise
Getting down to business
Protecting Your Estate from an Unnecessary Tax Bill
Chapter 16: Getting to Grips with Company Pensions                            
Being Smart by Joining the Company Scheme
Benefiting from employer contributions
Protecting your family with life cover
Providing pensions for surviving partners 
Exploring the Types of Workplace Pensions
Figuring out final salary schemes
Making the most of a money purchase scheme
Going with a group personal pension or stakeholder scheme
Looking at Limits on Your Pension
Bumping into the contribution ceiling
Getting tax relief
Increasing your contributions
Contracting In or Out of the State Second Pension
Changing Jobs – And Your Pension 
Chapter 17: Examining Personal Pensions and Stakeholder Schemes                     
Understanding How Personal Pensions Work
Figuring Out How Stakeholder Schemes
Enter the Equation
Choosing the Best Scheme for You
Searching for sources
Seeking advice
Deciding where to invest
Making Contributions
Sticking to the limits
Topping up your pension
Stopping contributions
Transferring to another fund
Receiving Your Pension
Working out annuities
Drawing an income
Phasing your retirement
Understanding what happens when you die
Taking the Bull by the Horns: Self-Invested
Personal Pensions
Chapter 18: Coping in Retirement                 
Deciding When to Retire
Taking early retirement
Retiring at the usual age
Working past retirement age
Taking the Tax-Free Lump Sum
Deciding how much you should take
Working out what to do with it
Explaining Annuities
Working out annuities
Understanding different types of annuities
Deciding between staying level or rising
Deciding when to buy an annuity
Shopping around
Retiring Gradually
Withdrawing Income 
Dealing with a Trivial Pension
Getting Money from Your Home
Downsizing
Releasing equity
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 19: Ten Tips to Get Out of Debt and Save Cash                          
Taking Scissors to Your Plastic
Going Interest-Free
Having a Night In
Steering Clear of Buying a Round
Wearing Last Season’s Threads
Taking on Part-Time Work
Steering Clear of Lattes and Muffins
Buying Supermarket Own Brands
Walking to Work
Making Your Own Cards and Pressies
Chapter 20: Coping with Ten Events Life May Throw at You                          
Leaving Home
Paying University Costs
Joining the Rat Race
Getting Hitched
Starting a Family
Giving Up Your Day Job to Raise the Kids
Getting Divorced
Going Self-Employed
Being Made Redundant
Taking Early Retirement
Chapter 21: Ten Golden Rules for Sorting Out Your Finances                              
Live within Your Means
Start Saving from a Young Age
Become a Rate Tart
Avoid Store Cards at All Costs
Get on the Property Ladder
Put Your Pay Rise towards Your Pension
Take Advice before Taking the Plunge
File Your Tax Return on Time
Provide for Your Dependants
Insure Yourself from Risk
Appendix: Resources
Professional and Trade Organisations
Government Agencies
Other Useful Websites
Credit Reference Agencies
Index
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