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 VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Make your money work

Make your money work: There’s always something more you can do to boost your budget, says VICTORIA BISCHOFF

Money Mail was launched in 1966 with the slogan: ‘You work hard for your money, so make it work hard for you.’

I cannot think of a more fitting motto for the start of any New Year. There is so much we cannot control — political uncertainty, trade rows, stock market turmoil… but we can take simple and effective steps to protect our finances.

Official figures show that Britons are spending a record amount on credit cards and saving less than ever. It is vital we get back into the savings habit.

Official figures show that Britons are spending a record amount on credit cards and saving less than ever. It is vital we get back into the savings habit

Our savings guru Sylvia Morris, says that signing up to a regular savings account is a brilliant way to start. Simply set up a direct debit for a set amount to come out on the day your salary or pension lands, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Our prudent investor Tony Hazell also echoes the importance of investing each month. 

He admits it might be tempting to press pause on this until stock market turbulence passes, but if you keep going you stand to benefit when the tide finally turns.

Another option — as we point out today — is to use any spare cash to pay down your mortgage.

With interest rates so low, you’ll struggle to get a guaranteed return to match the reduction in interest charges and the tempting proposal of clearing your loan early.

And even if you have no debt and already save religiously, there is always something more you can do to boost your budget.

For inspiration, read our guide and please do send in your own top money saving tips to share with others.

Cashback bonus

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make better use of cashback websites when buying online.

Companies such as Quidco and TopCashback pay you just for clicking through their website.

It sounds suspiciously too good to be true, but that’s really all there is to it.

You sign up with an email address, search for the company you want and then wait to be directed to its website — where you continue your business.

Despite only remembering to use cashback websites on two occasions last year, I still pocketed £40. Quidco paid me £10 for clicking through its website to when arranging rental insurance.

And I got another £30 for switching my gas and electricity deal through comparison site Energy Helpline.

The only downside is that it can take months for the cash to arrive in your account — but it’s a pleasant surprise when it does.

Brilliant BT

Here at Money Mail we are quick to pounce on companies which let their customers down.

But we also like to give credit where it is due, and Money Mail’s Tony Hazell has stumbled across a brilliant example of a large corporation doing a really good deed. Please put your hands together for BT’s ‘MyDonate’ fundraising website.

Most of us will have heard of online fundraising giants JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving.

But whereas JustGiving deducts a 5 per cent fee on donations and Virgin takes 2 per cent, BT’s MyDonate is a not-for-profit service.

Charities do not have to pay any commission or set-up fees when they register.

It means that aside from a small card processing fee, every penny raised goes to the charity.

Well done BT.

Tales of cheer

While we are handing out bouquets, last week I launched a mini competition in this column calling for readers to send in their best customer service stories from the past year.

Letters and emails are already flooding in with heart-warming tales of small and big businesses going above and beyond to help their customers.

Remember, there is a bottle of champagne for the best letter, so keep them coming.

Write to or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.