Personal finance - why you should compare, not despair
Sorting out your personal finances can be a tricky and exasperating time. Whether you are looking to obtain money through a loan, protect your finances with life insurance, medical, travel or car insurance, save some money through an individual savings account (ISA), apply for a credit card or a mortgage, change a telephone or fuel utility supplier, or simply decide what the best current account is for your needs, the choices are seemingly endless as well as being extremely complicated. They can also be potentially serious if you get it wrong. With so many options, and so many companies trying to get you to use their product, it is difficult to know where to turn.
The first method of working out your own finances is to review your needs and compare the products on offer to meet those needs. You could, if desired, visit the banks one by one, burning calories and shoe leather by doing so. Alternatively you may have heard of the World Wide Web, it's like a sort of big and commercial version of Narnia and you don't have to go through your wardrobe to get there. And no freaky men with goats legs …
… not without a login and password anyway.
So, we present the concept of financial product comparison sites, which have been around in the UK since 1997, when small company called moneynet decided to break up the monopoly in the personal finance market. Over the past eight years, there has been an explosion in the number of UK sites seeking to provide information to enable consumers to make informed decisions on their personal finances. These sites provide free consumer financial product comparison services for credit cards, insurance, investments, savings accounts, mortgages, loans, as well as gas and electricity bill suppliers. Additional consumer information services are also often provided such as financial guides, financial newsletters and personal finance calculators. Moneynet, in particular, has a tool which allows registered users to manage all of their accounts online - securely, including credit cards, savings accounts and current accounts.
You can also obtain financial advice from an independent financial advisor, but this is an expensive way of doing what could be done for free with a little effort. If you do your own homework, then you can use your time with an advisor more effectively by asking informed questions. You'll have a better understanding of what you're being sold if you've done a little bit of homework first.