Five ways to get the information and advice you need to take control of your finances

Five ways to get the information and advice you need to take control of your finances

There is a whole galaxy of information and advice on financial matters out there - some free, some not so free. Some reliable, some not so reliable. 

In order to educate yourself and take control of your finances, you need to find your way through this maze.

Wise piggybank

Educate yourself with guides and books

There are some very good resources out there on the internet that are accessible for free.

For example, sites such as Moneysavingexpert and Thisismoney contain a wealth of guides and information on everything from savings accounts to dealing with debt, mortgages and investing.

The Money Advice Service also has a comprehensive website with free financial guidance.

There are also plenty of money books out there, and they're not all completely dull.

Take Young Money Blog founder Iona Bain's Spare Change or financial wellbeing author and speaker Jason Butler's Money Moments: Simple steps to financial wellbeing.

We're also fans of The 100-Year Life, a well-researched academic overview of why we should care. Celebrating a 100th birthday is not such a rare occurrence anymore!

Follow the news

Staying abreast of developments in the world of finance will help you keep a firm grasp on your finances.

Wake up to Money on BBC Radio 5 is a great daily show which is available as a podcast, and BBC Radio 4's Money Box is a good weekly digest of pressing financial matters.

Some of the national print media is available free online, including the Guardian and the Daily Mail, while the Telegraph, FT and Times are behind partial or full paywalls.

Moneywise and MoneyWeek are two of the better personal finance periodicals in print. Meanwhile, there are some well-respected money bloggers out there such as Holly Mackay's Boringmoney.

Get professional advice for free

Some independent financial advisers and most mortgage advisers will offer a free consultation before you have to start paying them fees.

It will only be a quick overview of your financial situation but if you haven't done it before it will almost certainly alert you to things you didn't know.

Get advice from a robot

No you're not going to sit opposite an android boffin.

Robo-advice refers to a large and growing range of online advice providers who usually offer their services alongside an investment platform, on which you can open an investing Isa or a trading account.

They range from the very basic and cheapest, which ask you some simple questions about your goals and attitude to risk and offer a limited choice of portfolios that "fit" you, to the more sophisticated which aim to provide a service similar to independent financial advisers, and which charge more.

Do your research, and pay particular attention to how fees are charged to find one that suits you. 

Speak to a financial adviser

This might be the best option if you have some complex decisions to make, you have a lump sum to invest or you are just not confident arranging your finances.

Choose your financial adviser carefully, even if it is a personal recommendation. First make sure they are independent and not restricted - the latter cannot take into consideration all financial products on the market.

All financial advisers must have the following: Level 4 or above of the national Qualifications and Credit Framework and Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). 

This means they have signed up to a code of ethics and have completed at least 35 hours of professional training each year. SPS certificates must be renewed annually so check your adviser's is up-to-date.

All financial advisers should be registered with the FCA: to check, see the Financial Services Register.

Second, check how they charge for their advice and compare their fees to others. Website such as unbiased and vouchedfor allow you to to search for IFAs and compare costs. 

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